Unite the union is strongly supporting its health service members who will be marching on Downing Street tomorrow (July 30) to vent their anger at the ‘grossly inadequate’ three per cent pay recommendation by the Pay Review Body (PRB) for NHS workers in England.
Members of the Unite Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital branch will be assembling at 5pm on Friday at St Thomas’ with other health workers to march to Downing Street to protest that the PRB recommendation is an insult for an exhausted workforce who have battled Covid for the last 18 months and have seen, in many cases, a 19 per cent pay drop in real terms since the Tories took power in 2010.
Unite called on the incoming chief executive of NHS England Amanda Pritchard, who was a previous CEO of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, to ensure that any NHS pay rise is fully funded by ‘new’ money from The Treasury, and not taken from existing already stretched NHS budgets.
Unite’s national health committee, which represents 100,000 members in the health service, meets next week to decide the next steps in its pay campaign which will see a consultative ballot for industrial action being put to members, following widespread NHS pay discussions in Unite Health workplaces, branches, regions and occupational groups this week.
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said, “We fully support our health members at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in their protest tomorrow at the grossly inadequate and underwhelming three per cent pay recommendation – we believe that the public shares our disgust at this paltry offer which reinforces our resolve for pay justice.
“The government decision to accept the NHS PRB’s recommendation was too little and too late after we have been asking for an early and significant pay rise for health workers for over a year,” he added.
“We are asking the new chief executive of NHS England Amanda Pritchard to ensure that any NHS pay rise is fully funded by the chancellor Rishi Sunak and not taken from existing NHS budgets already stretched to breaking point by the continuing coronavirus crisis and faced with nearly five million patients in England waiting for non-Covid procedures and operations, such as cancer treatments,” Jarrett-Thorpe went on to say.
“We believe that Amanda Pritchard has a short ‘honeymoon’ period in her job when she can exert maximum pressure on the Treasury for the additional funding that the NHS so desperately needs.
“Three per cent will also do very little to staunch the escalating ‘recruitment and retention’ crisis,” he continued. “It is estimated there are 100,000 vacancies in the health service and very little in the way of a plan to recruit the numbers needed.
“Have your ‘say’ on NHS pay and join Unite the union today. If members do decide they want to take industrial action, the union is in a strong position to support members with a strike fund of over £40 million.”
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.
By Shaun Noble