Unite, the country’s largest union, is launching its campaign calling for the government to ‘think again’ on NHS pay, following a consultation of its health service members which resulted in a strong rejection of the government’s pay plans.
Unite said the issue of fair pay for NHS staff will need a concerted campaign involving all the health unions and professional organisations representing the 1.3 million workers.
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said the government can’t keep running away from its own NHS staff, offering ‘insult after insult’.
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “It is time that health secretary Jeremy Hunt sat down with the unions and listened to our proposals for fair pay for the biggest workforce in this country.”
If the government fails to address the problems of this year’s controversial one per cent ‘divide and rule’ pay offer, Unite will have no choice, but to escalate its campaign on NHS pay right up to the next general election, where the NHS in meltdown will be centre stage.
Unite is urging its members to start the campaign this week through demonstrations for a fair pay deal at events being held under the auspices of the TUC on Thursday (5 June). A list of events can be accessed via http://alltogetherforthenhs.org/
Unite said that it had received ‘a very clear mandate’ to mount a campaign, following its consultative ballot of its health service members in England on the one per cent pay offer, including a move to industrial action, if there is no progress.
Unite will be starting by holding an industrial action ballet for its Welsh members this month on the wider issue of proposals to cut terms and conditions, as well as pay.
Stormont’s health minister Edwin Poots has yet to announce any pay award for staff in Northern Ireland, although members have indicated that they are prepared for industrial action if nothing is forthcoming soon.
Rachael Maskell said: “The strong mandate we have received from our consultative ballot has given us the green light for a major campaign on fair pay for NHS staff.
“Unite is keen to work in partnership with other health unions and professional organisations to achieve that goal.
“This campaign starts with this Thursday’s demonstrations - including one outside the NHS Confederation’s annual conference in Liverpool - and will build from this until the dispute is resolved. We want the future of the NHS to be centre stage at the general election.
“We believe that health secretary Jeremy Hunt is trying to drive down the incomes of hardworking NHS staff to make it more attractive for the Tory party’s chums in the private healthcare sector to cherry pick services for shareholder profit.”
In Scotland, the devolved government has agreed to pay the one per cent pay rise to all staff as recommended by the independent Pay Review Body (PRB). However, members in Scotland will be joining the campaign over how pay is determined in the future.
The announcement on pay in March meant that 600,000 NHS employees received no cost of living pay rise on 1 April.
Jeremy Hunt’s decision to reject the recommendation of one per cent for all workers by the PRB meant that only those at the top of their band pay received the one per cent increase in April.
An estimated 50 per cent of the 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@UniteinHealth Facebook: unitetheunion1uniteinhealth
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.