The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is taking the unprecedented step of asking its members in Northern Ireland working in the health and social care service if they would be prepared to be balloted on industrial action over the absence of a pay award for 2018/19.
While nursing staff in England, Scotland and Wales have received their pay awards for the current year, backdated to April, in Northern Ireland no pay award has been implemented by the Department of Health.
The RCN, along with other health trade unions in Northern Ireland, have been in discussions over a pay award for 2018/19 with the Department of Health for some months now.
The unions have asked the Department to fund an interim 3% pay award for health and social care staff on Agenda for Change pay, terms and conditions.
RCN Northern Ireland Board chair Fiona Devlin said: ‘Nurses’ pay in Northern Ireland has fallen significantly behind the other three UK countries, despite the fact that we are supposed to have a four country framework for pay, terms and conditions.
‘We have unprecedented pressures within the health and social care system that are made even worse because of at least 1,800 vacant nursing posts across Northern Ireland. We believe that enough is enough.
‘That is why we are asking all RCN members employed within [health and social care] on Agenda for Change contracts if they would be prepared to be balloted on taking industrial action in order to demand a fair pay award. Our future course of action in relation to pay will be determined by what our members tell us.’
The consultation is launched today and RCN members have two weeks to indicate whether they are prepared to be balloted on taking industrial action on this matter.