December 17, 2019
British Secretary of State refuses to meet parties to avert health workers strike – O’Neill

Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill has said the decision by the British Secretary of State to refuse a meeting with the five party leaders on the health workers’ strike is ‘regrettable’. 

Michelle O’Neill was speaking after party leaders met with the Head of the Civil Service and the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health to discuss a solution which could avert tomorrow’s strike action by health workers.

Michelle O’Neill said: 

“We met with senior civil servants today to urge them to do the right thing and provide pay parity to health workers in order to avert tomorrow’s strike action.

“There is consensus among party leaders that a resolution can be found by the British Secretary of State Julian Smith and civil servants.

 “The pay and staffing issue must not be used as a political football within the talks.

“Party leaders restated there is consensus if the Executive is restored by 13 January that we will adopt a policy to award pay parity.

 “On this basis we invited the Secretary of State to come and meet with the five party leaders, where he would provide a commitment to deliver this in the event of no agreement by that date. 

“Regrettably he refused to meet the leaders.

“Sinn Féin remains in contact with Union leaders and party leaders and we will continue in our efforts to achieve pay parity for health and social care workers.”

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