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UNISON Northern Ireland education branches and pay campaign activists last night welcomed breaking news that the Education Authority has finally received approval for the opening of negotiations with the support service unions on a pay and grading review.

Thousands of UNISON education support service workers have pledged to bring their demands for pay improvement right to the Minister in situ and make their demands the centre of election debates leading up to the 5th May.

In a recent consultation the union has received the backing of its members to make their demand for an EA pay and grading review of how the NJC agreement applies in Northern Ireland.

"We were promised this as part of the 2019-2021 pay deal" stressed Noreen Robinson, Lay Convenor for UNISON education workers.

Commenting today (1st April) as UNISON members across all HSC Trusts join with NHS staff across the UK in calling for a decent pay rise as part of the Put Pay Right campaign, UNISON Northern Ireland Head of Bargaining and Representation Anne Speed said: 

“UNISON members rights across Northern Ireland are delivering a clear message today that it’s time that Government put pay right for hard-working health and social care staff.

Today, 31st March, the health union, UNISON, will be addressing the Southern Health and Social Care Trust Board meeting focusing on their ‘Put NHS Pay Right’ pay campaign, the crippling costs of fuel whilst they deliver care in the community and UNISON’s concerns about the recent temporary reduction in services in Daisy Hill Hospital.

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, the UK Government introduced emergency legislation which allowed nursing and midwifery professionals to support the response to the Covid-19 pandemic by joining our temporary register.

UNISON welcomes the news from the Assembly Yesterday, as Pat Catney’s Period Products (Free Provision) Bill, Rachel Woods’ Safe Leave (Paid Leave for Victims of Domestic Abuse) Bill and Clare Bailey’s Safe Access Zones Bill all passed in the Assembly.

Well done to the UNISONs Women’s Committee and the UNISON policy team who have campaigned and supported these issues over the years and have worked hard to make the change.

UNISON will be holding a demonstration about the rising cost of fuel and travel expenses at Altnagelvin Today (Tuesday 22nd March) at 2:30pm. UNISON members will be delivering a letter to Western Trust CEO, Neil Guckian urging him to resolve the hardship being faced by workers simply carrying out the functions of their job.

UNISON along with NIPSA, Unite and GMB met with Minister for Education, Michelle McIlveen today to discuss pay and to make the case for a COVID recognition payment for education workers.

Commenting on the meeting Louise O’Hara, Regional Organiser said, “The Department of Education must step up to the mark and take responsibility for the education workforce. The UNISON members who play their part in educating and keeping our children safe must be recognised and compensated fairly. Platitudes and thanks will not pay the ever increasing bills.”.

UNISON Northern Health branch will be holding a demonstration about the rising cost of fuel and travel expenses in Cookstown today (Monday 21st March) at 2pm.

Health and social care workers such as, homecare workers, district nurses and occupational therapists are facing a mileage rate which is not meeting the cost of running their car to travel from client to client. If health and social care workers can not afford to complete these shifts it will impact on the entire health service, which is already in crisis.

"This report confirms and highlights extensive efforts by health unions to protect workers and patients" according to lead negotiator Anne Speed of UNISON NI.

 "During the early days of the pandemic many hours were spent in discussions with RQIA, PHA and Health Trusts to secure supply of PPE. We very quickly became aware of the shortfall in supplies and our members anxiety on their own safety and the safety of patients and clients needing care in the independent sector.