UNISON Northern Ireland


UNISON has served notice of the first week of Industrial Action on health & social services employers across Northern Ireland.

Phase 1 of the UNISON action will run from 25th November up to and including 18th December.  Phase 2 will run to March 2020.

From 25th November onwards all UNISON members across the entire health and social services system will commence industrial action short of strike. Categories of staff taking this action will include nursing, ambulance service staff, support services staff, admin, clerical and managerial staff, social services and social care staff, professional and technical staff and all those staff working across the various health services agencies.

This action is working to rule to include:

  • Refusing to have breaks interrupted
  • Working strictly to health and safety protocols
  • Withdrawal from all Union/Management/Department of Health engagement except regional meetings on dispute resolution
  • Refusing to cover the work of others taking action

In Week 1 commencing 25th November, the first wave of specific groups of workers will commence the first periods of strike action across 5 HSC Trusts. This will include UNISON members in:

  • Sterile services across major hospitals
  • Hospital and social services transport services across the Belfast and Northern HSC Trusts
  • Support services (domestic services, portering, catering laundry etc) in the Ulster Hospital and Lagan Valley Hospital
  • Portering services in Craigavon Hospital

Strike action by these groups of workers will take place at different locations, over different time periods and on different days.

Employers will receive 7 days notice of each subsequent week of action when different groups of staff will take further strike action.

Commenting on employers being notified of the industrial action UNISON Regional Secretary, Patricia McKeown said:

“None of the workers involved have taken the decision lightly. They are determined to fight for justice on both pay and staffing levels. They are determined to break the cycle of hundreds of millions of pounds haemorrhaging out of the health budget and into the hands of private agencies. They are determined to see our NHS workforce stabilised and allowed to get on with the serious business of delivering health and social care to the people of Northern Ireland.

We know that the public is supportive of our campaign for pay justice. We now challenge those in charge – the Department of Health, the Health Trust Boards and the Executive teams to match the courage and determination of the workforce to save the health service from further crisis. The workers are standing up for justice. It is time they did so too.”


Notes to editors:

  • Around two thirds of UNISON’s 43,000 members in Northern Ireland work in the health & social services system.
  • Under the Agenda for Change system which sets pay grades across the UK, health and social care workers in Northern Ireland are the lowest paid. This has been as a result of a failure of devolved Government in Northern Ireland to implement pay awards received in England, Scotland and Wales over many years.
  • 92% of UNISON members who responded to the ballot for industrial action voted in favour of strike action.
  • Specific dates and times of strike action to follow.