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RCN Northern Ireland edges towards action over pay

Demoralised nurses will seek permission to hold historic ballot over pay

Nurses in Northern Ireland feel devalued and demoralised by the lack of any pay award and could be balloted on industrial action, says to the RCN.

In a historic move, members of the RCN Northern Ireland board have voted to ask the college's governing council for authorisation to ballot its 14,000 members about industrial action.

RCN Northern Ireland director Janice Smyth said nurses are angry that the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has not indicated whether or not it plans to make a pay award for nurses even though it is halfway through the 2015/16 financial year.

'Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK in which no offer has been made to nursing staff, while pay awards of 1% have been made to other public servants such as teachers, police and fire officers, who are already better paid than nurses.

'Nurses in Northern Ireland are working under unprecedented pressure in a system that is not fit for purpose. They feel devalued, demoralised and disgusted at the total disregard for the Independent Pay Review Body’s recommendation that nurses should receive a 1% pay rise,' she said.

The ballot will be discussed at the next RCN council meeting at the start of next month.

A health department spokesperson said: 'The minister is aware permission is being sought from RCN council to ballot nurses for strike action and awaits the decision. Any strike action, however, would be regrettable, particularly when discussions with trade union colleagues on the issue of pay ‎have regularly been sought by government officials.'

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