RCN members in Northern Ireland vote to strike for first time in union’s history

Northern Ireland nurses ready to take action over pay disparity with the rest of the UK

Northern Ireland nurses ready to take strike action for the first time over pay disparity with the rest of the UK

Strike action by nurses in Northern Ireland
Picture: iStock

Nurses in Northern Ireland have voted to take strike action for the first time in RCN history.

Last month, the ballot opened for RCN members in Northern Ireland to vote on whether to take industrial action, including strike action, over pay.

Some 96% of those members who returned their ballot papers voted to take industrial action and 92% voted to take strike action.

RCN Northern Ireland director Pat Cullen said: ‘Today, nurses in Northern Ireland have spoken clearly and collectively on behalf of patients and the people of Northern Ireland.’

The college called for the vote after negotiations with the Department of Health in Northern Ireland (DHNI) broke down.

It had requested pay parity between nurses working in Northern Ireland and those in England and Wales, but the DHNI refused.

A newly qualified nurse in Northern Ireland earns £22,795, compared with £24,214 in England and Wales.  

Planned action to commence in a few weeks

In the ballot, nurses were asked if they would support industrial action short of a strike and, separately, if they would support a strike.

This is the first such action in the union’s history.

Now that members have voted for industrial action, it will commence within four weeks of the ballot closing, either in late November or early December.

A DHNI spokesperson said last month that the college was asking the impossible, considering the country’s government has been suspended.

‘The RCN is making demands it knows the department cannot meet,’ they said.

‘We do not have the authority to overturn ministerial decisions on localised Northern Ireland pay rates, nor can we make cuts to services to fund the pay increase being sought.’

In other news

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.