The government’s decision not to ask the independent Pay Review Body (PRB) on NHS pay to make recommendations on next year’s pay ‘sounds the death knell’ for the PRB.
Unite, the country’s largest union which has 100,000 members in the health service, was critical of Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander’s decision not to ask the PRB to make recommendations on a pay award for Agenda for Change staff for 2015/16.
Unite national officer for health Barrie Brown said: “It is highly ironic that a senior Liberal Democrat has sounded the death knell for the PRB set up by Margaret Thatcher with the express intention to take NHS pay out of politics.
“Multi-millionaire health secretary Jeremy Hunt rode roughshod over the PRB’s recommendation this year – something that Thatcher never did – and this political interference seems set to continue, if the Tories and their Liberal Democrat poodles remain in power.”
Unite members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be balloted from 26 August asking them whether they wish to take strike action or industrial action short of a strike over this year’s ‘insulting’ pay offer.
This meant that 600,000 NHS staff did not receive the one per cent cost of living rise in April. The ballot closes on 26 September.
Unite is joining other health unions in making a major stand on pay. It is estimated the 1.3 million workers in the NHS have seen their pay fall by up to 15 per cent in real terms since the coalition came to power in May 2010.
Barrie Brown said: “It is clear from Danny Alexander’s statement that NHS staff pay is set to become a political football, where dedicated health professionals are seeing their incomes supressed, while the rich and powerful prosper under the coalition’s polices.”
He said that it was not clear how this new hard line from the government would impact on the devolved administrations of the UK, as Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh have responsibility for their individual health budgets and agendas.
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940 and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.