RCM recommends its members vote yes as industrial action ballot opens in Northern Ireland

on 31 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 Northern Ireland Director For Northern Ireland RCM Northern Ireland

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in Northern Ireland is recommending its midwife and maternity support worker (MSW) members vote for industrial action as it opens its formal ballot on pay today running until 7 March.

The move to ballot staff working in Health and Social Care (HSC) is not a decision taken lightly says the RCM. It follows a consultation in November where over nine out of 10 RCM members who responded said they would be prepared to take industrial action if no pay award was agreed. The NHS Pay Review Body recommendation of a 4% pay award was imposed on HSC staff in December.

Karen Murray, the RCM’s Director for Northern Ireland, said: “I cannot overstate the frustration and disappointment of our members on the totally inadequate pay offer imposed upon them. It is yet another real terms pay cut and comes after years of pay freezes and pay stagnation, and now with inflation sitting in double-figures our members are feeling the impact of the cost of living crisis.

“This is also not just about pay and there are many issues that have brought us to this unwanted point. This is also about our members standing up for better care for women and their families. The pressures on midwives MSWs and other maternity staff are enormous and growing but without the investment and resources to back them up. They are exhausted, burnt-out and working above and beyond every day to care for our women, babies, and their partners. They see no other option in order to highlight their exasperation and to focus attention onto maternity services.”

Northern Ireland is still awaiting a new maternity strategy to set the direction and plans for maternity services going forward. This is needed now to ensure that we have maternity services fit for purpose and we need the Stormont Assembly back to work, for us to work together to make this happen.

The RCM says if members vote in favour of taking industrial action HSC employers will be given adequate notice of any type of industrial action.  The RCM and its workplace representatives will work with maternity service managers to ensure there is cover during any work stoppages and that the delivery of safe care will not be compromised.

Karen Murray added: “It’s not too late to avert action and the answers to the issues affecting maternity staff lie with politicians. Our door is open and we, along with other health unions, are ready and willing to sit back down and negotiate; for a decent pay deal for our members, for better working conditions for them and for better care for women using our maternity services.”

RCM members in Scotland and Wales have already voted for industrial action with a walkout in Wales set for 7 February followed by a week of action short of a strike.


For interview requests and to contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected]

Notes to editors

For more information on the RCM’s pay campaign in Northern Ireland visit Deliver a Decent Deal in Northern Ireland (rcm.org.uk).

See also:

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