Nurses in Northern Ireland set to vote on industrial action

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is organising the ballot on the grounds that nurses in NI were the only nurses in the UK not to receive a pay rise for 2015-16.

The proposed protest is a work-to-rule protest, and could result in nurses refusing to work unpaid hours or carrying out non-nursing activities, which the RCN says are ‘imposed on nurses’.

Janice Smyth, the RCN's director in NI, said: "Not only are our members now paid less than their counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales, but many other public servants in Northern Ireland have received a pay award, leaving nursing, a predominantly female profession, subjected to unfair treatment.

"An experienced staff nurse in Northern Ireland is now paid £279 a year less than in England and £561 a year less than in Scotland. The message that the care they provide to the people of Northern Ireland is not valued is being made loud and clear."

A spokesperson for NI Health Minister Simon Hamilton said that Department for Health ‘values the essential role that purses play’ and claimed that trade unions had refused to enter discussions on a settlement, but hoped the unions would change their mind and begin to engage with the Department of Health.

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