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Radiographers will join midwives in Northern Ireland strike action

22 April 2015

Members of the Society of Radiographers (SoR) in Northern Ireland will go on strike on 30 April if they do not receive assurances from Stormont that talks will take place to end an ongoing pay freeze for staff in the National Health Service.

Employees in Radiology departments and the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre will take industrial action with members of the Royal College of Midwives. This will be the fourth time in recent months that radiographers have walked out in a continuing effort to persuade the Northern Ireland government to discuss pay.

The decision was taken following an emergency motion at the SoR’s annual conference currently taking place in Brighton. Delegates from across the UK voted unanimously to support their colleagues in Northern Ireland.

In recent months, agreement has been reached with NHS employees in the other three countries of the United Kingdom but the Northern Ireland Assembly has refused to hold any discussions with the unions.

The walk out on Thursday, 30 April will be for four hours and SoR members will work-to-rule after the strike. Cover will be provided for emergencies and urgent procedures but pre-booked appointments will be postponed. 

The action follows a wider public sector strike on 13 March when hundreds of trades unionists took to the streets to protest. 

"Radiographers will only take industrial action as a last resort," said Richard Evans, the Society's chief executive officer.

"If the Northern Ireland government would commit to discussions, we would immediately call off the action on 30 April. The governments in the other countries of the UK agreed to a 1 per cent pay rise for NHS staff and our members in the province have indicated that they would accept a similar deal," he continued.

NHS radiographers, who work in diagnostic imaging and provide radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer, have not received a pay increase for four out of the past five years. 

"Our intention is that the action has the maximum impact on Government and the minimum impact on patients," Richard Evans said.

“Radiographers pay has gone down by 15 per cent in real terms over the past five years. Our members have lost patience with an employer that does not value the hard work and the high standards that they work to.

"We and the other Northern Ireland NHS trades unions have made repeated requests for talks with the employer but they refuse to even discuss the issue. The recent national industrial action is the first that radiographers have taken over pay since 1982.”

If there is no improvement in pay and the dispute drags on, the Society is concerned that more radiographers will leave the profession for another career, making current shortages of trained staff even worse. Patients will have to wait longer to be seen than they do now. 

Radiography also needs to attract students to replace the people who retire or leave the profession every year. There are fears that if pay continues to fall in value, young people will not consider a career that requires three to four years of intensive training.

For further information contact Paul Moloney, the Society of Radiographers' industrial relations manager on 0785 063 9709 email paulm@sor.org, or Dominic Deeson on 0795 784 5238 email dominic@deeson.co.uk

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