'New wave of NHS strike action'

London’s Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Trust and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust first to walk out

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Unite’s consultative ballot in England on the government’s NHS offer ends on 28th April. So far the known results show that members in a large number of NHS trusts are voting to reject the offer. Union representatives in those trusts with a live strike mandate will now be issuing strike notices. This was agreed at a Unite meeting today (April 17), which will herald a wave of new strikes early in May.

Unite members at Guys and St Thomas’ Trust in South London, and the Yorkshire Ambulance Trust, will be the first in this new wave of Unite strikes in the NHS. Unite members there will overwhelmingly reject the government offer as totally inadequate. They are also increasingly angry that the government has blatantly failed to deliver its commitment to find new money to pay for its proposals rather than robbing other health budgets.

Members at Guys and St Thomas’ and Yorkshire Ambulance Trust are now exercising their strike mandate and will walk out on 1st May. A number of others are likely to follow on 2nd May.

Unite put the government offer to the ballot of its members without a recommendation to accept it. Unite was the only union directly involved in the negotiations to do this. Unite was not able to recommend the offer because the non-consolidated cash lump sum for 2022/23 is not a pay rise. Also the 5 per cent increase for 2023/24 does not come anywhere near to matching inflation, currently at 13.8 per cent.

Further, the UK government offer doesn’t even match the higher settlement approved by Unite members in Scotland. For example, under the terms of the current government offer a paramedic on a band 6 in salary in England will earn almost £3,500 less per year than a corresponding worker in Scotland.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham says, “All along we have said this offer is nowhere near good enough for NHS workers. The new wave of strike action agreed today reflects the growing anger of our members about the total inadequacy of the current government proposals. We knew that the lump sum on offer and the 2023 percentage increase simply would not cut it with our members.

“If the new wave of strike action is to be avoided the government needs to return to the negotiations and put more money on the table; that includes the consolidation of the lump sum offer into wages as a starter. Simple. Otherwise, make no mistake, Unite is organising for more decisive strike action involving more and more of our members”.

Unite national lead officer for the NHS dispute, Onay Kasab added, “Unite put the offer to our members but our reservations about it are being realised with the widespread reaction from members to reject the offer. There are a growing number of trusts where members are now pressing to take action. They will have the 100 per cent support from the union when they do so.”

By Barckley Sumner

Pic from 2021 NHS demo at Guys and St Thomas’ hospital by Mark Thomas