Nurses in Derry to vote on strike action for pay above inflation

Nurses in Derry are to join colleagues across the north and Britain in a ballot to decide whether or not to take strike action for pay five per cent above inflation.

Nursing staff in the north have yet to receive a formal pay offer for 2022/23 due to the absence of a functioning Executive.

The Royal College of Nursing has agreed that members in the north will join a UK-wide ballot, which will ask RCN members working for NHS and HSC employers on Agenda for Change contracts if they will take strike action, which involves a complete withdrawal of labour.

The RCN is campaigning for a fully-funded pay rise for nursing staff of 5 per cent above inflation.

Nurses across the north and Britain are being balloted for strike action.

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If members support strike action, it will be the first ever strike by RCN members in Britain, following the historic 2019 strike in the north.

Rita Devlin, Director of the RCN in the north, said: “It is quite unbelievable that three years after we took industrial action for the first time in the RCN’s history, we’re asking members if they will take strike action again.

“Serious shortages of nursing staff are putting patient safety at risk. Governments across the UK have failed to take action on this issue and in Northern Ireland, with no functioning Northern Ireland Executive to appeal to, nursing staff have not received a pay offer at all.”

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Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive, said: “There’s never been a more urgent time to fight for fair pay and patient safety. From severe staff shortages to a decade of underpayment, we can’t continue like this.

“Nursing staff will stop at nothing to protect their patients. Staff shortages are putting patient safety at risk and the failure of governments across the UK to listen has left us with no choice but to advocate for strike action.”

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said: “It’s saddening and certainly maddening, that the fight for fair pay within the health service has not been resolved. Warnings were not heeded, an adequate pay deal was not secured and now the nursing workforce have been pushed to potential strike action against the backdrop of a cost of living emergency.

“I stood on the picket lines with nurses back in 2019, the first strike in their history. Since then our nurses have borne the brunt of a global health pandemic; that they should be on the brink of another strike for is completely unfair. The crisis facing nurses is more acute here given the disparity in pay between the North and the rest of the UK and as such demands an urgent, robust response."

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The ballot will run across the UK from September 15 until October 13.