Pay justice and safe staffing in public interest – O’Neill

Achieving pay justice and safe staffing levels in the health service is in the public interest, Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill has said.

The Sinn Féin Vice President made her call after writing to the British Secretary of State Julian Smith and to the Head of the Civil Service David Sterling after meeting the leadership of health unions UNISON and the RCN with party colleague Pat Sheehan today.

After ten years of Tory austerity our health service is at breaking point with much-needed finances stripped from the block grant and workers bearing the brunt of these cuts.

“Health workers are the backbone of our health and social care system.

“People working at all levels of the health service consistently deliver high-quality and compassionate care in extremely difficult situations. They are entitled to fair pay and safe staffing levels.

“Sinn Féin support the industrial action of the trade unions and their demand for pay parity.  

“I am very clear that the Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly does have the authority to deliver pay parity.

“The Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions Act sponsored by the NIO provided Mr Pengelly with the authority to make decisions in the public interest.

“It is my strong belief that achieving pay justice and safe staffing levels in the HSC is in the public interest.

“I have expressed the view very clearly in writing to the Head of the Civil Service David Sterling and to the British Secretary of State Julian Smith that pay parity should be restored immediately.”