Demonstration at hospital as pay dispute rumbles on

Jill Weir, UNISON Omagh and Fermanagh Branch Secretary;

Jill Weir, UNISON Omagh and Fermanagh Branch Secretary

WORKERS with Fermamagh’s single biggest employer are still embroiled in a row over pay with a demonstration set to take place today (Thursday) outside the South West Acute Hospital.

The Trust employs 1,811 in the Fermanagh area, and problems first arose last month when it emerged that staff had faced delays in payments followed the centralisation of the payroll systems.


The underpayments followed the centralisation of the payroll system for the Western Trust and other trusts to the Belfast-based, Business Services Organisation (BSO). Staff have not been receiving payments for overtime, travel claims and other allowances.

Local Unison union representative Jill Weir, who is based at the Enniskillen hospital, said that staff have ‘no confidence’ in the new payroll system.

Payments are still an issues, Ms Weir claimed, and she described staff as ‘worried and angry’.

“They are worried about unpaid bills and if this was a problem that had only occurred once it could be dealt with, but it is on-going for some months now. There is not much to look forward to for the summer time.

“The staff are feeling totally demoralised, all they are asking is to be paid for what they are owed, to be paid for what they have worked. We would be worried that staff could take the attitude of not doing extra bank shifts, which the Trust is totally reliant on to function. Some are asking why would they take on work if they are not getting paid for it?”

UUP Councillor Rosemary Barton described the issue as ‘totally unacceptable’. She said that Health Minister Edwin Poots must sort the issue out ‘without delay’.

“While ongoing technical difficulties over these past three to four months have been blamed following the introduction of a new payroll system, the time for excuses and empty promises is over, it is now imperative that immediate action is taken to rectify the situation.


“These hard working, dedicated health workers, like everyone else, have bills to pay, and many are totally dependant on these extras such as mileage to finance the extra expenses incurred through their work, or overtime pay to finance a summer break, which is essential and necessary for these dedicated people.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) responded: “The matters in question are operational in nature. The issues around tax codes and national insurance contributions have been substantially resolved. Significant additional resources have been directed towards resolving issues around enhancements to basic pay to prevent the problems recurring.

“The number of staff affected this month has decreased markedly and any shortfalls are being addressed urgently. All staff are encouraged to submit claims for enhancements on time to facilitate correct payment.

“The Minister has made it clear he expects this issue to be resolved, however he recognises there will always be the potential for pay to be incorrect due to late or inaccurate submission of claims.”

At lunchtime today, Thursday June 5, there will be a demonstration at the front of the South West Acute Hospital. The union has said that there will be no disruption to services.

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