Midwives announce Northern Ireland strike date

on 24 March 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 Northern Ireland Director For Northern Ireland RCM Northern Ireland

Midwife and maternity support worker (MSW) members of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) working in the HSC in Northern Ireland will take strike action from 8am to 12pm on 3 April. They will also be taking industrial action short of a strike by claiming payment for any overtime worked in the week following strike action. The action will be across all five trusts in Northern Ireland.

Karen Murray, the RCM’s Director for Northern Ireland, said: “This is not where midwives wanted to be, but they have been left with no alternative than to take this stand for better care for women, safer maternity services, and decent pay. They have faced a decade and more of pay freezes and pay stagnation and watched their real income fall, yet are working harder and harder to deliver safe care.

“Maternity services keep going because of the selfless efforts of their staff but many can take it no longer. Staff are deeply frustrated; morale is rock-bottom, and the pressures are having a real impact on their mental and physical health because of the huge pressures they face.”

The safety of women will be the prime concern during any industrial action says the RCM.  There will be midwives and MSWs working on maternity units to ensure women – such as those in labour or needing emergency care – receive the care they need. Cover will be like that on a bank holiday.

The move to action follows a formal ballot of RCM members in Northern Ireland earlier this month on the imposed 4% pay award for HSC staff for 2022/23. On a turnout of 55% of eligible RCM members nearly 9 out of 10 (89.09%) voted yes to strike action. Over nine out of ten (93.9%) also voted for industrial action short of a strike.

Karen Murray added, “We have reached a tipping point and we must see action to address the growing crisis in our maternity services, and to deliver a decent pay deal for these dedicated but exhausted public servants. Politicians in Westminster and Stormont have a duty of care to HSC staff and the women, babies, and families they care for.  Northern Ireland’s political stasis means they are failing in that duty. It is not too late to avert this action and we ask again for our politicians to step up and deliver a deal that rewards midwives fairly. It has been done in other UK countries, so why can it not be done here?”

Following negotiations most health unions including the RCM have reached agreements on pay in Scotland and Wales. After two weeks of talks a revised pay deal is on the table in England and the RCM will be consulting members there on the offer.


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

Notes to Editor 

*Around 1200 midwife and maternity support worker members of the RCM in Northern Ireland are eligible to take part in industrial action.

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.