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Long asks other party leaders to back her pledge on health workers' pay

Alliance Leader Naomi Long has asked other party leaders to back her pledge to support pay parity for health workers in a restored Executive.

Mrs Long was speaking after unions rejected a pay offer from the Department of Health to workers. She said workers had a right to be unhappy at their pay levels, given the pay awards delivered in the rest of the UK and promised but not delivered in Northern Ireland.

“The Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, Richard Pengelly, has stated he does not have the authority to overturn a decision taken previously by a Minister to break pay parity, as it would stray into political territory. That is compounded by the absence of an Executive, which has placed the Department under extreme pressure across a number of fronts, not all of which can be resolved without its restoration.

“However, in any new Executive, Alliance would support pay parity for health service workers. I have written to Mr Pengelly to confirm this and I am asking other party leaders to confirm with him their parties would do similar.

“I hope this offers Mr Pengelly the political direction required to re-engage with the unions and the flexibility to resolve the dispute, and ensure a fair wage is paid to those who deserve it.”