Strike ballot date is set for health staff

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Local health workers are to be balloted on May 23 on strike action after Unison members rejected the government’s one per cent pay offer.

And there may be industrial action sooner after many workers were underpaid due to a glitch in a new payroll system.

Unison is to ballot for industrial action over underpayment of staff unless it gets a satisfactory response within 48 hours. The union said thousands of healthcare workers were affected by the introduction of a new payroll system.

Nursing and other health staff at the Southern Trust have been affected by problems with the system.

However, the Southern Trust said the Business Service Organisation which runs the payroll system is to notify all relevant employees and make sure their money is paid by Friday or the beginning of next week at the latest.

One individual claimed they were being underpaid more than £1,500. And a nurse - who is owed £700 - said staff are outraged.

Ray Rafferty from Unison has called for an urgent meeting with the health minister to address the situation.

“No-one wants to have a strike in the health service, but that’s what it’s coming to, because the bottom line is the system is failing the staff who provide the care for the people of Northern Ireland.

“I’m demanding a meeting with him now so that we can publicly discuss this and let our members know what is going to happen to fix the problem.

“If not, then we will put it to our members - are they prepared to take industrial action over this. We need people paid within the next 48 hours.”