Strike action could disrupt borough’s health services

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A TRADE union planning a day of industrial action next month says it expects “serious disruption” at healthcare facilities across Newtownabbey.

Unite has said upwards of 100,000 members working in the NHS will take part in planned UK-wide action over pension reforms on May 10.

The action will come a day after the Queen’s Speech, and the union expects the speech will include a bill introducing changes to public sector pensions.

Unite has said the changes will lead to health workers paying more for their pensions, working longer hours and getting less pay.

The union said its NHS members, including health visitors, pharmacists and paramedics, face, on average, an extra £30 a month to pay for their pensions, against a background of increasing household bills.

It is anticipated that Unite members will join other public sector unions on May 10 as part of the on-going campaign against government attacks on public sector pensions.

Unite regional officer for health, Kevin McAdam, said: “I expect there will be fairly serious disruption across all health departments in Newtownabbey - a wide range of staff will be involved including the likes of pharmacists, health visitors and drivers.

“Our members are fairly cross at the proposed cuts and will not take it on the chin.

“The government is picking the pockets of health workers in order to pay for pension changes which will see people having to work longer to get less.

“This disgraceful attack comes against a backdrop of pay freezes and the threat of regional pay in the public sector.

“In the face of continued attacks, health workers will be stepping up their campaign and looking to join other public sector workers in taking action on May 10.”

Over 94 per cent Unite’s health members voted to reject the government’s pension package.

A spokeswoman for the Northern Health Trust said it was not aware of any planned strike, but added that it is “still early” as the union has only to provide seven days notice of any industrial action.