Colum Eastwood writes to Northern Ireland Secretary asking for action on pay awards for public sector workers

The MP for Foyle has written to Chris Heaton-Harris urging him to take action ahead of another day of strikes next Thursday.

The leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, and MP for Foyle, has written to the Northern Ireland Secretary, Chris Heaton-Harris, urging him to take ‘decisive action’ to deliver pay awards before the strikes next Thursday.

Colum Eastwood’s letter said: “As you know, unions representing workers across the public sector in Northern Ireland have scheduled a generalised day of action to take place on 18th January in response to, inter alia, wage inequality and the steady deterioration in salaries as a result of inflation, macro-economic conditions and the failure to offer fair pay awards.”

“In effect, that means that there are just ten days left for a decisive intervention that would assure workers and their representatives that a pay award that meets their needs will be delivered in the short term. The demands of these workers, including teachers, healthcare staff, nurses, junior doctors, civil servants and others, are entirely reasonable and reflect the fact that the people who keep our society going have had enough of substandard treatment.”

“Indeed, both the Northern Ireland Office and the Treasury have conceded the argument by agreeing to fund public sector pay issues identified by the Department of Finance during the most recent discussions at Hillsborough Castle.”

“What workers cannot afford, and would be absolutely unacceptable, is a political blame game between the Northern Ireland Office and the DUP which leaves public sector staff in the middle and without the support they need and deserve.”

“The decisive intervention of the Mayor of London this week has demonstrated the willingness of trade union leaders to work with government to avoid strike action where substantive progress is possible. I would urge you to take a similar approach – act swiftly now to bring about a just and sustainable resolution to this significant challenge. Provide our nurses, teachers, junior doctors, civil servants and all public sector workers forced to take industrial action with the pay award that they deserve.”

The MP for Foyle released the letter he has sent on X (formerly Twitter).

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