SDLP MLAs have called on Ministers to take urgent action to prevent nurses and teachers from going on strike.
Teaching unions and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are considering strike action in an attempt to secure fair pay.
SDLP MLAs said everyone deserves fair payment, especially given the pressures from the cost of living crisis and stressed that any industrial action would have a huge impact on the health service and schools.
SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath said:
“It’s deeply concerning that we have reached the stage where RCN is balloting every member across these islands for the first time in its 106-year history. Our nurses should not have to go through this to receive fair pay, so much is expected of them each and every day and even now, when the cost of living emergency is heaping pressure on everyone, they have been left with little choice but to consider strike action.
“The last nurses strike in the North focused the minds of our politicians and played a big part in the restoration of the institutions, we need to see similar action from Ministers to sit down with the RCN and reach a pay agreement that allows nurses to support their families while caring for patients to the best of their ability.
“I cannot stress enough how serious the current crisis is in our health service. Our emergency departments are overwhelmed, further pressures could lead to the cancellation of elective surgeries this winter and people are waiting longer and longer for treatment. The last thing we need is a nurses' strike this winter and an agreement needs to be reached to stop it from happening."
SDLP West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan said:
“Industrial action from our teachers has been looming for some time, unions have repeatedly highlighted issues around working conditions and fair pay and they consistently fell on deaf ears. Now with teachers facing rising costs like the rest of us the situation has reached its apex and nothing has been done to resolve it.
“The SDLP has consistently called on the Education Minister to seek a solution to the issues experienced by teachers before it reached this point, now we are facing unprecedented joint industrial action from multiple unions which will have serious consequences for schools across the North.
“Like our nurses, so much is expected of our teachers, during the pandemic they were expected to turn up, putting themselves and their families at significant risk, they are entrusted with developing our young people and fostering their futures and the least they deserve is to be compensated appropriately. Our children have had enough interruption to their education over the past few years and Minister McIlveen needs to recognise this situation and address it immediately.”