Northern Ireland health workers to be balloted on new pay deal

Vote welcomed by health minister Robin Swann after strike action and working to rule over pay

A ballot of health service workers on a new pay deal has been welcomed by Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann.

Under the proposed settlement, thousands of health workers will have pay parity restored on their pay bands and will receive an unconsolidated lump sum for all staff on Agenda for Change terms and conditions.

This means workers will receive a consolidated pay uplift of 5% and a non-consolidated (pro-rata) payment of £1,505. The offer will be backdated to April 2023.

Almost £700 million (€818 million) has been allocated by Stormont Ministers to address the public sector pay dispute in Northern Ireland. The money is part of the £3.3 billion financial package awarded by the UK government to support the restoration of the powersharing institutions.


Unison said health workers have had to contend with rising prices and the emergence of a cost-of-living crisis.

In a statement, it said: “The absence of devolved Government and the decision of the Secretary of State to withhold funding deeply frustrated workers.

“Six days of strike action and 15 months of working to rule by health workers have finally yielded a result.”

A mass strike on Thursday, January18th, saw 170,000 public sector workers across Northern Ireland on the picket lines, the largest such protest in a generation.

However, Unison said the restoration of pay parity with England on pay bands still leaves Northern Ireland health workers behind Scotland and Wales.

It said closing the gap will be a key trade union goal in the 2024-2025 pay round.

The health minister said the ballot was a “positive step”.

Mr Swann said: “I said on taking office that my first priority was to get pay settlements over the line for staff.

“This is a positive step in that direction and I commend the constructive negotiations that have taken place with trade unions representing Agenda for Change staff.

“The unions will now ballot their members and I want them to be given the time and space for this to happen. Staff are the backbone of health and social care services and deserve to be properly rewarded for their work. Staff pay settlements for 2023/24 are long overdue, having been delayed by political and budgetary instability.”

The lowest pay values for Band 1 and Band 2 will also be removed.

Meanwhile, almost 2,500 bus and train drivers in Northern Ireland are planning further days of strike action next month over pay. – additional reporting PA