The RCN is taking the unprecedented step of asking members working within the HSC in Northern Ireland if they would be prepared to be balloted formally on industrial action over the continuing absence of any pay award for 2018-2019.
Nursing staff in England, Scotland and Wales have already received their pay awards for the current year, backdated to April. Yet in Northern Ireland, no pay award has been implemented by the Department of Health.
RCN Northern Ireland Board Chair Fiona Devlin said: “Nurses’ pay in Northern Ireland has fallen significantly behind the other three UK countries, despite the fact that we are supposed to have a four country framework for pay, terms and conditions.
"We have unprecedented pressures within the health and social care system that are made even worse because of at least 1,800 vacant nursing posts across Northern Ireland. We believe that enough is enough.
"That is why we are asking all RCN members employed within the HSC on Agenda for Change contracts if they would be prepared to be balloted on taking industrial action in order to demand a fair pay award. Our future course of action in relation to pay will be determined by what our members tell us.”
The RCN, along with the other health trade unions in Northern Ireland, has been in discussion with the Department of Health for some months now in relation to a pay award for 2018-2019.
The unions have asked the Department to fund an interim 3% pay award for HSC staff on Agenda for Change pay, terms and conditions.
The consultation will be launched on Monday 12 November and RCN members will have until Monday 26 November to indicate whether they are prepared to be balloted on taking industrial action in pursuit of a fair pay award.