Derry & Strabane Councillors have backed a campaign to secure increased rates of pay for health care workers.
The union UNISON is seeking £1 extra per hour for each and every health service worker in the pay claim they lodged with Downing Street and the Chancellor at the end of August. As yet no formal response has been forthcoming.
A substantive motion was passed by Councillors of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Health and Communities committee, offering support for the pay claim and the request for a £500 recognition payment. Councillors also pledged the support of Council for health care workers if they are forced to take industrial action to win the pay demand.
In his deputation, UNISON regional organiser, Joe McCusker urged all committee members to encourage any of their party MPs sitting in Westminster to lobby for the pay claim for all NHS workers.
Mr McCusker said; “Our health care workers at the moment are exhausted, they are tired, they are down trodden, however, they will continue to deliver the best service they can to the people of Northern Ireland and in particular the North West.
“We have seen reports in regards to people who have been treated in Altnagelvin Hospital what they have said about the health service staff, the nurses, the porters, the domestics, the medics, they have praised the work they have done and certainly shown their appreciation.
“We all too have shown our appreciation. For several weeks during the spring we all came out and Clapped for Carers on a Thursday evening but I think it’s now NHS workers deserve more than applause for their efforts and they deserve a decent pay award. We are asking for a pay award to reflect the worth and the value of health service workers.”
Mr McCusker gave more details on the pay award UNISON are seeking.
“The pay award itself with £2,000 on each pay point is the equivalent of an extra £1 per hour for each health worker. In terms of what our health service staff have done over the past number of months, £1 per hour is not a lot that they are asking for.
“In terms of earnings, it would take the minimum earnings of someone working in the health service from £18,000 per year to £20,000 a year. For a nurse their starting salary, that would take them from £25,000 per year up to £27,000 a year.”
Mr McCusker added that as yet ‘we are no further down the line than when we submitted it on August 28 to Downing Street.’
Every party offered their support to Mr McCusker and UNISON’s pay claim for the NHS.
Following the deputation SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell made a proposal that ‘Council writes to the UK Government and the Department of Health demonstrating our support for an immediate £2000 pay rise and writes to the Executive requesting a £500 recognition payment for the NHS and social care staff, separate to the pay award, for their efforts in combatting COVID’.
People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin offered an amendment to Colr. Farrell’s proposal which read: ‘Funding for a pay increase should be ring-fenced by Westminster. Council will write to all MPs throughout Northern Ireland and representatives at Westminster calling on them to call on UK government to support the UNISON pay demand. Council will support health care workers if they are forced to take industrial action to win this pay demand.’
The substantive motion passed with unanimous support from all Members.