Unite, the country’s largest union, would be prepared to take up Jeremy Hunt’s offer of talks on NHS pay – but only if they were ‘meaningful’.
Unite said that it had never had such angry feedback from its members, following yesterday’s (Thursday) announcement on pay, which means that 600,000 NHS employees will receive no cost of living pay rise on 1 April. Unite pointed out that the RPI rate of inflation was running at 2.8 per cent.
Today (Friday), Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, has written to the health secretary saying it could engage in talks, while at the same time continuing to consult with its members over possible strike action over pay.
In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “We have never met such anger at a pay announcement in the NHS, and our members are clear that they want us to progress to consult over taking action against your proposals.
“Unite would agree with you that dialogue is preferable to strike action, and whilst we will continue to follow the mandate of our members to demonstrate the strength of feeling against your actions and use industrial means to change your response to the NHS Pay Review Body recommendations, we would engage in talks should they be meaningful and with the intent of progressing the pay arrangements.
“It would be helpful if you could outline how you have envisaged talks taking place, and their scope.”
Yesterday’s announcement on pay means that only those at the top of their band pay would receive the one per cent increase – the remaining 55 per cent of the 1.3 million NHS workforce would have to rely on their annual incremental increase, which is not necessarily guaranteed.
Unite has stressed that the incremental increases were in recognition of increased knowledge and skills as staff progressed in their careers – and are not part of the annual pay rise process.
The union has branded Jeremy Hunt’s announcement as ‘divide and rule’ tactics.
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1
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.