Pay and Reward Campaign | Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Strike Ballot | Have your say on your pay

NI Formal Ballot 

The SoR formally balloted members working across the Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland (HSC) in summer 2023. Our members voted to move forward with strike action and this will take place from 8am on Thursday 21 September until 8am on Saturday 23 September 2023

The advice, guidance and information in this section is to help you make an informed choice. If you'd like to know more, join us for one of our upcoming briefings. 

Briefings for Reps and Members

DayTimeRegistration Link
Thursday 14 September
10:00 – 11:00 Click to Register
Friday 15 September
12:00 – 13:00
Click to Register
Monday 18 September
09:00 – 10:00
Click to Register
Monday 18 September
12:00 – 13:00
Click to Register
Monday 18 September
16:00 – 17:00
Click to Register
Tuesday 19 September
12:00 – 13:00
Click to Register
Tuesday 19 September16:00-17:00Click to Register

Information on what to expect surrounding the upcoming industrial action can be found in our Industrial Action toolkit:

Industrial Action Toolkit

For information about how to handle media interactions, including some key example questions you may be asked, please see this media briefing:

NI Media Briefing

Latest News

NI Trade Unions gear up for action for fair wages and fairer financial settlement for Northern Ireland.


Today in Armagh, trade union leaders representing working people in all professions and occupations met to discuss the ongoing squeeze faced by everyone in Northern Ireland compounded by inadequate and insulting pay offers and the financial decisions of the NI Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris MP.


Speaking after the meeting, ICTU Assistant General Secretary Gerry Murphy said: 

“The Secretary of State is punishing workers and service users while acting as if he is taking on a recalcitrant political class who refuse to take responsibility themselves in Stormont. This is a cop-out and an abdication of his responsibility when he is de facto direct ruler.    


“Every single day brings some petty act of penny pinching in the name of fiscal responsibility. The news headlines are a depressing drumbeat of bad decisions: ‘Patients waiting for days in Emergency Department’; ‘No money for health staff pay rises in NI’; ‘Funding for primary school nurture classes being cut’; ‘Top civil servant says departments have reached cuts limit’; ‘One in six people face hunger in Northern Ireland’


“We reject the rationale of an alleged ‘overspend’ which must be corrected. The Northern Ireland Fiscal Council stated in their report on public finances in March 2023 that the vast majority of the overspend was made up of ‘pay awards, energy prices and other inflationary pressures’. Inescapable pressures rather than new funding commitments were to blame for the excess of spend. After more than a decade of Tory cuts our society needs more public funding, not less and we will fight to secure the necessary finances to properly fund workers and provide decent public services.

“Northern Ireland departments were set up to fail. They faced massive increases in prices, much smaller increases in resources and also lacked a functioning NI Executive to monitor and redistribute in-year spending. The idea that Northern Ireland needs to be collectively punished for any of these local political circumstances is as erroneous as it is insulting.

“Unions across the public sector and including parts of the private sector are gearing up for a new wave of industrial action this autumn. Many unions have ‘live’ ballots mandating strike action and/or action short of strike. All teaching unions are in this situation, and an increasing number of unions representing health professionals, most of whom have little or no tradition of industrial militancy. They do now, and will be taking strike action in September, possibly being joined by other public sector workers with ‘live’ ballots in the civil service, some district councils and all three levels of the education sector.

“We agree with Mr Heaton Harris about one thing: We should have our NI Executive back and functioning to address these legitimate concerns of hundreds of thousands of workers. This time labour won’t wait. We are taking action to address these wrongs and get justice for our members, their families and their communities.

“Trade unions are not backing down. We demand justice on pay and a financial settlement more broadly which allows us to kick start our stalled economy.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Please explore the FAQs below. To ask a question and add to them, email [email protected].

  • 1. Why are we balloting?

    An indicative ballot was held in NI to survey Society of Radiographers opinion on the lack of any pay offer to HSC staff. It ran from 26th April to 16th May 2023.

    91% of members indicated that they were willing to take industrial action, including strike action in the absence of any pay offer in NI. This is a very strong view from Radiographers in NI and we are therefore moving to formal ballot.

    We, as trade union leads, have had meetings with the Secretary of state for NI Chris Heaton Harris and Permanent Secretary for Health Peter May. However, despite these meetings there still has been no pay offer to HSC staff in NI. Indeed, we have been told repeatedly by Peter May that there is no money in the current budget for any pay offer.

    SoR members have therefore indicated that they are not prepared for NI to remain the lowest paid region in the UK. They are not prepared to stand by whilst their workforce is depleted further by cuts to commissioned undergraduate places. We have a workforce crisis in NI and the current situation will exacerbate this position. Radiographers have been underpaid and undervalued for long enough!

  • 2. When does the ballot run from and to?

    The ballot opens on Wednesday 9th August 2023 and closes at noon on Wednesday 6th September 2023.

    The pre-paid envelopes are second class postage so please leave at least 7 days for the ballot to be returned.

  • 3. What do we hope to achieve?

    A fair pay offer for NI staff to address the workforce crisis.

  • 4. What percentage increase are we asking for?

    We haven’t asked for a specific percentage rise or flat rate increase but considering that the Pay Review Body for other public sector workers have been accepted by the Government at between 6% and 6.5% that would be the least we would expect.

    Any increased offer would be put back to you as the members to decide whether you want to accept it or not. We are clear that any offer must be a consolidated amount.

  • 5. Who can participate in the ballot?

     Members who have a substantive contract of employment directly with an HSCNI Employer.

  • 6. I only work on The Bank. Will I be balloted?

    No. This is because you don’t have a substantive contract. You can decide not to work on the day of the strike.

  • 7. Where will my ballot paper be sent?

    Your ballot paper will be sent to the address we have on your membership record as of Monday 31st July 2023.

  • 8. What if I haven’t received my ballot paper?

    If you haven’t received your ballot paper by Monday 14th August 2023 then please contact [email protected] and we will look into it.

    Please note: If the details on your record are incorrect we can’t reissue your ballot paper. 

  • 9. Can I vote online?

    Unfortunately, due to the legislation governing industrial action ballots, we are compelled to use the postal system.

  • 10. I accidentally lost my ballot paper, can I have another?

    This very much depends on individual situations. Should this happen to you please contact [email protected] to urgently discuss.

  • 11. Can I update my SoR membership record during the ballot?

    Yes, you can update your details at any time. 

    You can do this online via the 'My Account' area of the website or by emailing: [email protected]

  • 12. I’m on maternity leave/sick leave/parental leave etc, should I vote?

    Yes, you should use your democratic right to express your opinion. You can always support your colleagues on the picket line – however do take SoR advice if you are on sick leave.

  • 13. I’m an assistant practitioner / radiography assistant. Can I vote?

    Yes, absolutely. All our members have equal rights in the SoR and deserve appropriate reward for their hard work and dedication.

  • 14. I’m a student SoR member. Will I receive a ballot paper?

    No, you won’t. This is because you have to be in substantive employment in order to be balloted. As a student you are not an employee.

  • 15. I’ve just qualified. Will I get a ballot?

    If you have started work in an HSCNI employer AND had updated your SoR membership record to reflect this before 31 July 2023, then you will receive a ballot paper.  

    As long as you are in a substantive role on the day(s) of the strike you can still take part even if you didn’t get the opportunity to vote.

  • 16. Are the ballot results counted nationally or by employer?

    The vote is an aggregated ballot. This means that all eligible members in Northern Ireland are being balloted at the same time and the overall result will apply to all members.

    So, if there is a vote to strike then all members in Northern Ireland will be able to take strike action.

  • 17. Why does the ballot only mention strike and not other forms of industrial action?

    Other forms of industrial action known as ‘action short of strike action’ take a long time to have an effect. It also can put members under emotional pressure to perform examinations/treatments which have not been included in the limited service we tell the employer we will provide.

    If the members are out of the department and on the picket line there is less likelihood of this happening and of individuals being picked off.

    Finally, strike action is very visible in that there are picket lines outside hospitals which in their turn increase publicity and provide an opportunity to educate the public.

  • 18. If I vote ‘No’ will I have to go on strike?

    An industrial action ballot is part of any trade union’s democratic process and in a democracy those in the minority are expected to comply with the majority decision. However, as explained in the previous question, you can’t be made to strike and the SoR would not seek to take any disciplinary action against you for not doing so.

    We do understand that some people in the current situation will not be able to afford to strike and we respect individual circumstances and decisions.

  • 19. If I vote ‘Yes’ am I committed to going on strike?

    No one can make you go on strike and there would be no disciplinary or other action by the SoR if you didn’t.

    However, the SoR will call members out on strike on the strength of the ‘yes’ vote so it would undermine the strike and the cause if you vote to strike and then don’t do so.

  • 20. If we do go on strike, will that be with other unions?

    Yes, we hope to plan co-ordinated strikes.

  • 21. Will it be a 48 hour strike like England?

    Yes. Proposed dates are 8am on Thursday 21st until 8am on Saturday 23rd September 2023. 

  • 22. Does the SoR give strike pay?

    Unfortunately, the SoR is not big enough in terms of member numbers and income to provide strike pay.

  • 23. If we go on strike how much pay will I lose?

    Although Trusts in England were advised by their solicitors to only deduct 1/365 of annual salary maximum for each strike day Northern Ireland have previously deducted all the hours a staff member was due to work on the day.

    The SoR and other NHS trade unions in Northern Ireland are seeking to clarify what is going to happen this time and will keep you updated

  • 24. What clinical services will reduce/stop during any strike

    The SoR is committed to providing an emergency service which is colloquially know as ‘life and limb’. This will depend on the service with particular concern for radiotherapy treatment commitments.

    There is however no legal obligation to provide any service and more advice will be given in due course.

  • 25. If members vote ‘Yes’ how soon would strike action happen?

    The trade union can only call on members to take industrial action where the majority of those who voted, voted 'yes' to taking action. If there is majority support, the action must begin within four weeks of the ballot or eight if it's agreed between union and employer. 

    Learn more here

    Proposed dates are 8am on Thursday 21st until 8am on Saturday 23rd September 2023. 

  • 26. Is there still time for others to join the SoR and be part of any strike?

    Yes!  Encourage your colleagues to join online here

  • 27. Can I become a rep to help out with the ballot and strike?

    Yes, please! Details of how to become a rep can be found here

  • 28. How can I help out with the ballot?

    There are a number of ways that individual members can help. The best way is by offering to help your local SoR rep who will have a lot to organise in a short space of time and offering to do some of that work would be greatly appreciated.

    In this web section you will find links to briefings we are holding which are open to all members. Sign up to one of these to find out more and advise other members to do the same.

    And, of course, the most obvious thing you can do is to make sure you vote and encourage all your colleagues to do so as well.

Useful Links

Code of practice

DELNI advice on industrial action ballots and notice to employers.

Learn more

Industrial Action

NI Direct advice on all things industrial action.

Learn more

Latest Information

Industrial action updates from the Department of Health.

Learn more