FERMANAGH’S nurses could be taking to the picket lines as soon as this September, with strike action becoming increasingly likely if current union talks with the Department of Health breakdown.
As reported in the Herald earlier this year, a strike over pay and working conditions has been considered for some time. Now the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has confirmed an all-out strike remains on the cards. It would be the first ever nurses strike in the North.
The new director of the in RCN the North, Tyrone woman Pat Cullen, said last week the health service in the North was almost 2,600 nurses short and was “haemorrhaging” staff due to difficult working conditions. She said after careful consideration it was decided to ballot their members on strike action if current talks were not fruitful.
“We have constantly tired to work with the department and drive home the message we ware going to hit a crisis,” Ms Cullen told the Irish News. “The health service is now in a crisis, it’s not just nursing.”
With nurses in the North being reportedly paid thousands less than those in England or Scotland, another local union, Unison, is also in talks with the Department. Two weeks ago Unison members staged a protest about the plight of nurses in the North outside Westminster and the Treasury.
If our nurses do down tools in the coming months, they will not have to look far for local support.
Cllr John McCluskey, who has been campaigning on health issues, said he would stand by the nurses and he was sure the rest of his fellow councillors would too.
“As a councillor I would be fully in support for them,” he said. “What is happening in the health service is cruelty.”
Cllr John McClaughrey also vowed to support the health workers, but said the situation should not have been allowed to come this far.
“I can certainly understand their frustrations, with no government and pay lagging behind,” he said. “I believe they should be allowed to strike, but I don’t think nurses should not be put in a position to have to strike because they are an essential service. There should be a fair system.”
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Posted: 2:05 pm July 18, 2019