Nearly 4,000 more health and social care workers across Northern Ireland have begun balloting for strike action, Unite the union said today.
Unite said its healthcare members are warning the NHS is on ‘life support’ and that without serious investment to stem the recruitment and retention crisis and save failing services it may not survive.
The workers perform roles in nursing, healthcare, science, counselling, psychology, dentistry, pharmacology, audiology, optometry, administration, IT and building maintenance services.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Anyone who has had the misfortune to be taken to hospital in an ambulance or spent far too long waiting for treatment knows the NHS is in a fight for its life. Burnt out low paid staff, who have seen their wages attacked every year for more than a decade, are leaving in droves.
“The NHS is on life support and without proper pay and funding it may not survive. That’s why NHS workers are standing up: They know that decent pay is essential to the service’s future.”
The constant real terms pay cuts and the increasing pressure that workers are experiencing in the Health and Social Care sector are key factors in the growing vacancies for staff. Across the UK, nearly one in 10 posts – 132,000 positions – a figure that is continuing to grow.
Unite members across all five HSC trusts and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service are being balloted. The ballot results are expected in late December.