RCN members in all health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland will take strike action today (18 January 2024), for the 3rd time in 4 years, to demand a return to pay parity with nursing staff in England.
While nursing staff across the rest of the UK have been awarded a pay rise for 2023-2024, those in Northern Ireland on Agenda for Change contracts have been left with nothing, during one of the worst cost-of-living crises in years. They are, once again, the worst paid in the UK.
Last night, RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen gave a video message to striking nursing staff.
Rita Devlin, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland said it's "immoral and reprehensible" that 4 years after we secured pay parity, members are back on the picket lines demanding exactly the same thing.
"Our politicians promised we would never again fall out of pay parity with our UK colleagues, but that is precisely what has happened," she said. "The fact that we have been told that money is there for a pay rise but is being withheld for political reasons is quite unbelievable. Our members are angry, they are frustrated, and they are no longer willing to accept this unfair and unjustifiable treatment."
Briege Quinn, Chair of the RCN Northern Ireland Board added: “We have been left with absolutely no choice but to take this action. This is as much about patient care as it is about pay. If we don’t value and pay our nurses what they are worth, the recruitment and retention crisis we are facing will continue to deepen. Unless this situation is resolved, I fear for the health service, I fear for the staff, but most of all, I fear for the patients who deserve a much better service.”
RCN members outside Northern Ireland can support colleagues by posting a message of solidarity on social media, sending a text to a colleague on strike, or talking about our strike action in their workplace.
It’s been 4 years since members in Northern Ireland first took to picket lines to fight for fair pay and patient safety in our historic first ever strike action. Today, RCN members will strike from the start of day shifts until 1pm.