A FRESH phase of industrial action will take place in the new year if pay parity for nurses is not introduced.
December saw the first wave of industrial action carried out by healthcare workers who went on strike over pay parity and unsafe staffing levels.
Over the past four weeks, Unison members across the health and social services systems including nurses and ambulance service staff took to the picket line at Omagh Hospital and also took part in ‘action short of strike.’
RCN, Unite, Nispa and Unison staff members all took to the picket line in a historic strike. This was the first time in the 103-year history of the RCN union that members have voted to take such action.
Andy McKane, chair of the Fermanagh and Omagh branch of Unison said the action will resume in January if the pay demands are not met.
“If there is no breakthrough, there will be a new round of industrial action in January. People would much rather be in their wards and looking after their patients, but there is just a complete dissatisfaction about the way they are being treated.”
For its part, the Western Trust has said that the recent wave of industrial action posed a “significant risk to patient safety” and hundreds of appointments were cancelled across the Trust.
Previously, negotiations were held between the Department of Health and trade union representatives, but the fresh pay proposal was rejected.
Mr McKane continued, “Momentum is growing. There is a great energy and appetite for industrial action. People are so angry. Politicians have been getting paid for three years and Stormont is not running.
“I hope there is a breakthrough and I am optimistic. We stood here for four weeks and the crowds are getting bigger. I hope nurses do not have to come back out again in January. I hope this can be resolved and another strike can be avoided.”