Midwives in Northern Ireland are to strike for the first time in a dispute over pay.
This is the first time in its 134 year history that members of the RCM in Northern Ireland have voted to take strike action. Industrial action will take place on Thursday, 30th April with a four hour stoppage.
This will be followed by further action starting on Friday, 1st May to Thursday, 7th May that will consist of RCM members only working overtime if it is agreed they will be paid for it, and taking all the breaks they are entitled to.
The ‘yes’ vote follows the rejection of the independent NHS Pay Review Body’s (PRB) recommendation of a 1% pay rise last year and no announcement about pay for this year for health and social care (HSC) staff in Northern Ireland. Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “We took industrial action in England, and through that action won a victory for our members. We also negotiated a deal with the Welsh government. There is still time for the Northern Ireland Executive to come to the negotiating table to seek a solution. We are seeking urgent talks with the health minister.
“This result from our ballot is an unambiguous ‘yes’: It could not send a clearer signal to those in power about the level of dissatisfaction among our members on this issue. Our members have suffered four years of pay restraint and many now face the prospect another year.
“The RCM will be meeting with employers to discuss our action and to ensure that mothers and babies are not put at any risk. I want to reassure women expecting a baby that midwives will continue to look after them and that they will be safe.”
Breedagh Hughes, Director for Northern Ireland at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Our members provide a 24-7 service to mothers and babies all year round. They very often work additional hours - frequently unpaid - to ensure care is of the highest level.
“Employers have taken this dedication and commitment and thrown it back in their faces. Our members are now unsurprisingly disillusioned and are fed up with being taken for granted by employers. The level of turn-out and their response testifies to this.”