Northern Ireland Government must ‘get its act together’ on pay says RCM say
on 14 November 2022 RCM Maternity Services MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Midwifery Midwives Staffing Levels Government RCM Member Wales Pay Pay and Agenda For Change Industrial Action Northern Ireland
Midwives and maternity support worker (MSW) members of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) across Northern Ireland have said resoundingly that they are prepared to take industrial action, including strike action if necessary, over the lack of a pay award in Northern Ireland.
The result comes after the RCM consultation on pay closed last week. In Northern Ireland, over nine out of 10 midwives who responded to the survey said they would be prepared to take industrial action consisting of a strike if no pay award was agreed. Nearly 90% also said they would be prepared to take industrial action if the current NHS Pay Review Body’s (PRB) recommendations are implemented.
Midwives and MSWs in Northern Ireland currently have no pay offer on the table and are paying the price of the absence of a functioning Government, says the RCM. Health Minister Robin Swann had stated he was willing to accept the PRB’s recommendations which amounts to a 4% pay award for the average midwife. With inflation already in double figures, this would amount to a pay cut in real terms.
The RCM says that midwives and MSWs across Northern Ireland have sent an unequivocal message to the politicians in Northern Ireland. They must get their act together and put a meaningful pay offer on the table now. Midwives are clearly suffering due to a lack of a functioning Government in Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the result Karen Murray, Director for Northern Ireland at the RCM, said: “Our members are massively stretched and under enormous pressure to deliver safe care. Day in, day out midwives work flat out to help deliver safe and high-quality care for mothers, babies, and their families. They should be rewarded for this with an inflation busting pay offer to make up for years of pay freezes and pay stagnation.
“The lack of a pay offer on the table for midwives in Northern Ireland will only lead to more midwives leaving the profession. Politicians in Northern Ireland need to get back to work and offer midwives a pay increase that recognises the financial challenges they face. In Northern Ireland, just like the rest of the UK we hear stories of health workers including midwives being forced to use food banks, clothes banks and having to choose between heating and eating. This simply isn’t right.
“Our members have made their feelings very clear; they are fed up with being undermined and undervalued. The result of this consultation demonstrates clearly our members frustration at the lack of any pay offer. Even if the PRB recommendation is implemented, it goes nowhere near reflecting the current rate of inflation or the cost of living crisis being experienced by our members and falls far short of making up for years of pay freezes and pay stagnation. Midwives will not have taken this decision lightly. No midwife wants to be considering the possibility of striking - this is not in their DNA – but they have been pushed too far. Our members have spoken, and they have said enough is enough.”
The RCM will now look at the result of the consultation and consider any next steps, including weather to ballot members on industrial action. Any decision to ballot or take industrial action must be approved by the RCM’s elected Board.
Across the UK the RCM has been balloting its members on pay. The ballot opened in England and Wales on 11 November and is set to close on 12 December. While in a formal ballot in Scotland midwives and MSWs voted overwhelmingly in October to take industrial action, up to and including strike action.
For more information on pay for members in Northern Ireland see Deliver a Decent Deal in Northern Ireland (rcm.org.uk).
To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].
71% of eligible midwives in Northern Ireland responded to the consultation.
The Royal College of Midwives (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 | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team.