Unite, the country’s largest union, will be consulting its health service members on possible industrial action, following Jeremy Hunt’s ‘divide and rule’ refusal to sanction the recommended one per cent pay rise for all NHS staff.
Unite said that the health secretary’s decision to accept the recommendation of the independent Pay Review Body (PRB), for only those not receiving annual increments, was a ‘divide and rule’ tactic and will see about 55 per cent of the NHS workforce getting no cost of living pay increase at all from 1 April.
Unite stressed that the incremental increases were in recognition of increased skills as staff progressed in their careers – and was not part of the annual pay rise process.
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said that the health secretary’s decision had to be seen in context of the enormous salaries the top NHS bosses were pocketing, when 40,000 NHS employees are earning less than the ‘living wage’ – currently £7.65 an hour (£8.80 an hour in London).
Unite highlighted the £260,000 that that the chief executive of University College London Hospitals (UCLH) NHS Foundation Trust, Sir Robert Naylor receives.
Unite said that senior managers had received an 11 per cent pay since 2009 – and that today doctors and dentists, some of the highest paid NHS staff, were still receiving the one per cent pay rise.
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “Jeremy Hunt has adopted a divide and rule tactic which calls into serious question the relevance of the so-called independent PRB.
“He is deliberately muddying the waters by trying to imply that the annual increments that staff receive, as they gain more skills to benefit patients throughout their careers, is part of the annual pay increase – it is not. It is despicable that Hunt has adopted such an underhand tactic.
“The PRB’s role is defunct, if ministers continue to steam roller its copious evidence gathering process which leads to its considered recommendations on pay.
“Our members are being hit by the escalating cost of living crisis – their pay packets are shrinking year by year. Their hard work and dedication appears to count for nothing in an NHS which is being parcelled up for privatisation at an accelerating pace.
“We will be consulting with our members about the possibility of industrial action.
“Hunt has created a parallel pay universe where 2,400 top NHS bosses are earning more than David Cameron – this is a gravy train for the elite, while nurses, health visitors, paramedics and speech and language therapists are treated with contempt.
“The bosses in the Yorkshire ambulance service are swanning around in top of the range Mercedes and BMWs – this is a prime example of the pay hypocrisy currently afflicting the NHS.”
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.