Jeremy Hunt was accused today (Tuesday 1 April) of treating the 1.3 million NHS workforce ‘with contempt’ by suggesting there would be further talks on pay – when his changes are taking effect today.
Unite, the country’s largest union, wrote to the health secretary on 14 March offering to enter into ‘meaningful’ talks, after Jeremy Hunt floated the idea via the media.
Since then, Unite has not even had an acknowledgement from the secretary of state for health.
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “The silence has been deafening from Jeremy Hunt’s office. Offering talks as a short-term media ‘fix’ when there was genuine anger at the ‘divide and rule’ pay offer and then not following through is treating the workforce with contempt.”
Unite said that it had never had such angry feedback from its members, following the announcement on pay, which meant that 600,000 NHS employees will receive no cost of living pay rise today (1 April). Unite pointed out that the RPI rate of inflation is currently running at 2.7 per cent.
Rachael Maskell said: “There was widespread disgust from our members at this derisory offer and disquiet, more generally, from the public at the unfairness of Hunt’s decision.
“The public see it as picking on a mainly female workforce which will do nothing for this government’s image as being unfriendly to the interests of women.
“More than 100,000 Unite members are now being consulted over possible industrial action, as this appears to be the only way that their legitimate concerns about their continuing falling living standards will be heard.”
Unite is presently beginning the process to consult its 100,000 members in the health service on possible industrial action over the pay issue.
Jeremy Hunt’s decision to reject the recommendation of one per cent for all workers by the independent Pay Review Body means that only those at the top of their band pay will receive the one per cent increase.
The remaining 55 per cent of the 1.3 million NHS workforce will have to rely on their annual incremental increase, which is not necessarily guaranteed.
Unite stresses that the incremental increases are in recognition of increased knowledge and skills as staff progress in their careers, with additional performance criteria to be met – and are not part of the annual pay rise process.
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
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.