THE health union, UNISON, is continuing to demand ‘pay parity’ with NHS workers in England.
Andy McKane, joint chair of Unison’s branch in Omagh and Fermanagh, says it is the responsibility of British Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris, to set an adequate budget which ensures that healthcare workers in Northern Ireland are ‘treated the same’ as their counterparts in England.
Recent talks with Mr Heaton-Harris, attended by representatives from Nipsa, UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives, were described as ‘full and frank’, but ended without resolution.
Health staff in the rest of the UK received pay offers in response to inflation, but, without Stormont functioning to agree a budget, the same cannot be done in Northern Ireland.
However, UNISON’s Andy McKane said health care workers here should not be ‘used as a lever to settle a political dispute’.
He added, “Our healthcare workers are working every day of the year – Saturdays, Sundays, Bank Holidays. They are caring for the sick.
“The NHS isn’t just for England, it’s for all parts of the UK, so all we ask is to be treated the same.”
Hundreds of striking healthcare workers have taken to picket lines at local facilities such as Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex ain recent months.
Further strike action hasn’t been ruled out, and neither has a further meeting with the Secretary of State to try and find a breakthrough in the long-running dispute.