Northern Ireland midwives urged to vote yes in ballot on industrial action starting today

on 06 January 2020 Midwives MSWs - Maternity Support Workers RCM Northern Ireland Industrial Action Pay and Agenda For Change Director For Northern Ireland Northern Ireland

The ballot, which asks midwives and Maternity Support Workers (MSWs) whether they wish to take industrial action up to and including strike action, comes following exhaustive talks over pay and conditions with the Department of Health. It closes at midday on Wednesday 29 January, with the result announced by the RCM on the same day.

Karen Murray, the RCM’s Director for Northern Ireland said: 

“We have exhausted every avenue over a number of years in trying to resolve this dispute with the Department of Health. Despite our best efforts to negotiate a fair pay deal for our members the department have failed to come to an agreement. Our midwives here are much worse off in their pay packet than their colleagues in other parts of the UK. This is simply neither right nor fair. That is why we are recommending our members to vote yes to industrial action.

The RCM Board’s decision to ballot comes after nine years of pay restraint which has seen midwives and MSWs take a real term pay cut. Midwives in Northern Ireland currently earn up to £2,000 less than their colleagues in England, with an even wider gap when compared to midwives in Scotland.

Karen Murray added; 

“This is a decision taken after a great deal of thought and consideration. Midwives and MSWs work incredibly hard to provide safe and high-quality care for women, babies and their families. All the evidence shows that staff who feel they are valued by their employers deliver better care. Failing to pay our midwives and MSWs a fair wage shows that employers do not value them. A yes vote in this ballot will show employers that they have exhausted the goodwill of our midwives and MSWs that has kept our maternity services going. It is time to take a stand for fair pay.”

More information on the RCM’s ballot is at


To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].  

Notes to editors

Around 90% of midwives in Northern Ireland are members of the Royal College of Midwives. There are around 1400 midwives working in the Health & Social Care Directorate. 

Although midwives and MSWs in England, Scotland and Wales agreed a three year pay deal in 2018, which increased starting pay and pay on promotion, and enabled them to reach the full rate for the role more quickly, colleagues in Northern Ireland did not benefit from this deal.

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at