Rebecca Black (PA)
Midwives across Northern Ireland are set to take strike action over pay and for safer services.
It comes after the announcement of a 4% pay award for health service staff for the financial year 2022/23.
Midwife and maternity support worker (MSW) members of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) working in the health service voted 89% for industrial action, and 93% for industrial action short of strike.
Turnout for the vote was 55% of eligible RCM members.
They are set to strike across Northern Ireland from 8am to 12pm on April 3, and take industrial action short of a strike by claiming payment for any overtime worked in the week following strike action.
The RCM said that during any industrial action 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.
Karen Murray, RCM director for Northern Ireland, said staff are deeply frustrated.
“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,” she said.
“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.
“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?”