Midwives in Northern Ireland to be balloted on industrial action

on 18 January 2023 RCM Maternity Services MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Midwifery Midwives Staffing Levels Government RCM Member Pay NHS Pay Review Body Pay and Agenda For Change Industrial Action NHS Staff

Midwives and maternity support worker (MSW) members of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) working in Health and Social Care (HSC) in Northern Ireland are to be balloted on industrial action over pay. The ballot opens on 31 January running until 7 March.

The move to a ballot follows a consultation in November about the willingness of RCM members to take industrial action over the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB)recommendation of a 4% pay award. In the consultation RCM members sent a clear and direct message about their disenchantment, says the RCM. Almost nine out of 10 who responded to the consultation said they would be prepared to take industrial action if the PRB recommendations were implemented. The 4% award was imposed on HSC staff including midwives and MSWs in December as inflation sat at over 10%.

Karen Murray, the RCM Director for Northern Ireland, said: “Our members have seen years of real terms pay cuts made massively worse by current double-digit inflation and are significantly worse off now than they were a decade ago. They are also facing major pressures and demands without the staffing and resources to meet them. They are working above and beyond on a daily basis to ensure women, babies, and their families get safe care, regularly working beyond their hours without being paid for it, often at the expense of their own health and wellbeing. They are exhausted, burnt-out, feeling under-valued and ignored. This is neither sustainable nor acceptable. The imposition of the insufficient and insulting pay award – less than half of current inflation – was the last straw for many.”

Two questions will be asked in the ballot; are you prepared to take industrial action up to and including a strike and are you willing to take industrial action short of a strike.

Should any industrial action take place, midwives and MSWs would not take any type of action that would put women or babies at risk and the safety of women and babies would be paramount, says the RCM. The College says that, should its members vote for industrial action, they will not ask members to break their Nursing and Midwifery Council code of conduct and safe services will be maintained.

Karen Murray added, “The anger of our members across Northern Ireland is real and growing. They have been driven into a corner and have been left them with no other course than to consider industrial action. The massive pressures our members face, and their falling pay packets, will do nothing to keep them in the profession. I have real fears that the current workforce pressures in Northern Ireland will worsen if these issues are not dealt with by our politicians. We also have no maternity strategy, no direction for services and our members are the ones bearing the brunt. We need action by our politicians to address these serious problems, and that action is needed now.”

RCM members in Wales and Scotland have already been balloted and voted for industrial action.


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

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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.