SWAH porter ready to fight for equal pay

A FERMANAGH hospital porter, who has worked in the job for the past 38 years, will be among the many thousands of other public service workers taking part in a 24-hour strike across Northern Ireland today (Thursday).
South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) porter and Unison member, Benny Cassidy,  will walk out with colleagues at midnight in response to the government’s failure to award a satisfactory pay deal.
“I am a porter in our local hospital and I am band 2, which is the lowest grade, but I am a proud union person who has spent over 38 years working in a job where the impact of underfunding is showing right across our healthcare system,” Mr Cassidy from Enniskillen explained.
“We have extremely long waiting lists, services are being removed, we have staffing shortages and staff are leaving as what is happening is totally unacceptable.
“On top of this, the staff are exhausted, morale is low and we feel we are totally undervalued in terms of our dedication to our various roles despite relentless pressures.
“Rather than using public service staff as a bargaining tool to get Stormont up and running again, we should have a fair pay award delivered that reflects parity and other very important issues such as short staffing need to be addressed.”
There have been several strikes in Northern Ireland in recent times, but tomorrow’s walk-out could be one of the biggest seen here in years.
It will bring widespread disruption, but Mr Cassidy believes that enough is enough.
“We didn’t pick this fight, we can’t afford to be out on strike but then again we cannot afford not to take this route. Strike action is always a last resort but we were left with no other choice,” he explained.
“We’re extremely angry as we know that the money is there as the Secretary of State has confirmed this but they are unwilling to give public services staff a fair increase on par with colleagues across the rest of the UK. We do work of an exact nature to those staff and to pay us less is grossly unfair as staff are really struggling to make ends meet.
“We have stood on picket lines before but have been ignored as have the union leadership when they have had talks with the Secretary of State.
“He claims he cannot intervene in the absence of an Northern Ireland Assembly Executive, yet he had the powers to bring forward a budget without any of their involvement.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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