UNISON Northern Ireland

UNISON responds to Public Sector Pay policy for 2019/20

UNISON notes the announcement today by the Department of Finance on the setting of public sector pay policy for 2019/20. Commenting on the announcement and the related statement by the Department of Health, UNISON Head of Bargaining and Representation, Anne Speed said:

“This announcement by the Department of Finance is a profoundly disappointing and seriously unhelpful development. UNISON represents tens of thousands of public sector workers. To be informed of such significant decisions via press release is an utterly unacceptable approach to industrial relations.

In short, public sector pay is being restricted below the level of inflation once more. Our members who work within the health and social care system are currently being balloted for industrial action, but no additional resources are being identified to fund the fair pay awards that they deserve.

We completely reject the insinuation by the Department of Health that unions have ever sought that services be cut to fund a pay award. As the Department is well aware, we have consistently argued that it must make the case to the Department of Finance and UK Treasury for additional resources. As our members and the public know only too well, resources are needed now not only to fully fund the health service but also to pay the workforce what they are owed.

We are seriously concerned that the Department of Finance, in the absence of Ministerial authority, has decided to commission a study on the labour market and issues affecting public sector pay. It is not for civil servants to take such decisions. This is a matter for locally elected, accountable Ministers.

We will resist any attempt to use such a review as a smokescreen to deconstruct UK-wide agreements on pay for health and education workers. We demand that the Department of Finance engage with us urgently on this issue.”


Notes to editors:

· UNISON represents 40,000 members in Northern Ireland. Our members provide public services, either as directly employed public sector workers, or as workers within private companies or community and voluntary sector organisations providing public services.

· Around two thirds of UNISON’s 40,000 members in Northern Ireland work in the health & social services system. They will be balloted between 21st October – 11th November for industrial action. Industrial action may include both strike action and action short of strike.

· Public sector pay rates in health are set within the Agenda for Change system which sets pay grades across the UK. In education, non-teaching staff have their rates of pay set via the NJC framework applicable in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


For comment please contact:

Anne Speed: 07904427133

John Patrick Clayton: 07508080386

UNISON: 02890270190