NHS pay justice campaign continues

Unite’s NHS England members reject government’s pay award by 90 per cent as campaign of action builds

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Unite members in health sent a clear and unequivocal message that they will not accept the government’s ‘grossly inadequate’ pay offer, with 90 per cent voting to reject the government’s three per cent pay award.

Unite’s consultative ballot of its members in the health service also highlighted that they are collectively prepared to take a stand  – of the 90 per cent rejecting the offer, a total of 84 per cent said they were willing to take some form of industrial action.

Unite, which represents 100,000 members in health, will now plan for a comprehensive programme of targeted industrial action in the coming months and will be liaising with other health trade unions to coordinate pay campaign actions.

The consultative ballot result comes at a time of skyrocketing living costs, with the RPI rate of inflation rising to 4.8 per cent. The NHS workforce not only faces impending tax hikes on National Insurance Contributions (NICs)– with income tax and council tax rises also rumoured – but other costs such as NHS car parking charges and a 12 per cent increase in energy bills.

The cost of living crisis would mean the government’s three per cent pay award would translate into a decisive pay cut, with health service workers already having suffered real terms pay cuts and freezes for the last 11 years under successive Tory governments.

In many cases, health service staff have seen their pay drop by an astonishing 19 per cent in real terms over the last decade.

Commenting, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Our members in the NHS in England have voted overwhelmingly to show their disdain 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,” she added.

Doctors in Unite (DiU) chair and GP Dr Jackie Applebee spoke of the frustration that health service workers have felt at the government’s insulting pay offer – and how so many staff are struggling.

“The situation is so dire that some nurses have had to use food banks and many cleaners and porters have needed two jobs to survive,” she said. “Despite this, health workers stepped up and went beyond the call of duty to look after the public during the pandemic. Many are exhausted. We did this because we have a sense of vocation and don’t want to let our patients down.

“It was heartwarming to be appreciated and clapped every Thursday evening, but sickening that the likes of Boris Johnson and his ministers joined in as a cynical ploy to ride on our wave,” she added. “Their real attitude to health workers is demonstrated in the insulting pay offer. Claps don’t pay the bills; health workers need pay rises that make up for the years of pay cuts.”

 Unite national officer for health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe explained Unite’s next steps in its determination to defend its members’ pay and conditions.

“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,” he said. “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,” he added.

 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 UniteLive team

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