Health service members of Unite the union in England have voted by 90 per cent to reject the government’s ‘grossly inadequate’ three per cent pay award for this year.

Unite, which represents 100,000 members in the health service, will now plan for a comprehensive programme of targeted industrial action in the coming months as the RPI rate of inflation increased to 4.8 per cent.

The consultative ballot also highlighted that of the 90 per cent rejecting the offer, a total of 84 per cent were willing to take some form of industrial action. Unite said it would now be liaising with other health trade unions to coordinate pay campaign actions.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members in the NHS in England have voted overwhelmingly to show their distain at what is effectively another pay cut for those who cared for the dying and sick during the pandemic. 

“With the cost of living soaring and tax hikes on the way, Unite is determined to ensure the government to think again and offer our NHS workers the fair and decent pay they undeniably deserve."

Unite says that NHS workers in England have suffered real terms pay cuts and pay freezes for the past 11 years.

The consultative ballot comes against a backdrop of an exhausted workforce who have battled Covid for the last 20 months and have seen, in many cases, a 19 per cent pay drop in real terms since the Tories took power in 2010.

Unite national officer for health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, added: “Today, Unite’s national health committee agreed a campaign of targeted industrial action and days of protest into the winter and beyond in the continuing campaign for pay justice for NHS workers, despite the barriers and restrictions of the 2016 Trade Union Act. Our campaign has great public support.

“We will be seeking to conduct these actions, where possible, with other public sector workers and sister unions who share our discontent on the appalling pay offered to this workforce.”

Unite’s long-standing policy has been for a pay rise of £3,000 a year or 15 per cent, whichever is greater for all health sector workers.


Notes to editors:

The turn-out was 25 per cent.

The 2016 Trade Union Act ‘reformed’ the law to raise barriers and restrictions for trade unions to take industrial action, including raising thresholds for qualifying ballots and additional thresholds for ‘important public services’.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

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Unite is the leading union in the UK and Ireland, dedicated to defending and improving members' jobs, pay and conditions. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.