UNISON addressed a Southern Health and Social Care Trust Board meeting on a number of issues over pay earlier today (Thursday).
The union’s focus was on the ‘Put NHS Pay Right’ pay campaign, the crippling costs of fuel whilst they deliver care in the community, and concerns about the recent temporary reduction in services at Daisy Hill Hospital.
UNISON Orchard Branch Secretary, Deborah Yapicioz, said: “We all know the NHS workforce is in crisis – we desperately need a plan to keep our dedicated, hardworking but exhausted staff in the NHS. This can only be done if together we, with the NHS employers such as the Southern Trust, use our powers to put NHS pay right.
“This means that everyone is paid fairly for the jobs they do and the hours they work. A recent survey has shown that the Health Service are losing low paid staff, including healthcare assistants, cleaners, 999 call handlers amongst others to the private sector. ”
She added: “Major names on the high street including supermarkets, coffee shops and logistic firms are among those that exceed the lowest hourly rates in the NHS. Staff, our members, need an inflation busting pay-rise, the end of poverty pay and payment for the hours we actually work”.
UNISON Newry and Mourne Branch Secretary, Catherine Farrell, added: “Inflation is at record levels and the cost of living is continuing to rise steeply, putting our members under increasing pressure to put food on the table, heat their homes and put fuel in their cars.
“For our domiciliary care members and community nurses, they can no longer afford to put petrol or diesel in their cars to enable them to visit and deliver care to their clients in the community. Yet they continue to deliver this vital care. The Southern Trust area is largely a rural area spreading from South Down, South Armagh and South Tyrone and the recent hike in fuel prices has had a devastating impact on our members.”
Commenting today as UNISON members across all HSC Trusts joined with NHS staff across the UK – today and tomorrow – in calling for a decent pay rise as part of the Put Pay Right campaign, UNISON Northern Ireland Head of Bargaining and Representation Anne Speed said: “UNISON members right across Northern Ireland are delivering a clear message today that it’s time that Government put pay right for hard-working health and social care staff.”
Ms Speed said that many health and social care workers are seriously questioning their futures within the NHS, branding the proposed 3% pay rise “completely inadequate”.
She continued: “Government at Westminster needs to move swiftly to deliver an inflation-busting pay award that focuses on retaining staff who have given so much in responding to the pandemic.
“In Northern Ireland, we are calling on all political parties and candidates to commit to Put Pay Right in a new Executive. We need a collective effort from all the parties to secure the funding needed from Westminster for a pay rise in Northern Ireland that deals with the cost of living crisis and retains the workforce. Now is the time for all parties to show health and social care workers they are truly valued and will not be taken for granted’’
UNISON Regional Organiser, Nuala Conlon, added: “We had a year of ‘clapping’ in the first year of the Covid pandemic, we were ‘rewarded’ with Boris Johnston’s 3% pay rise.
“This did nothing to assist our members in the NHS. Now is the time for a decent pay increase to enable employers to recruit and more importantly retain their staff.”