NHS strikes resume

Health workers demand pay rise that will end recruitment and retention crisis crippling NHS

Reading time: 4 min

After roundly rejecting the government’s pay offer, Unite members at Guys and St Thomas’ Trust in South London, and the Yorkshire Ambulance Trust, will strike on Monday (May 1).

Meanwhile, Unite members at South Central, South East Coast and West Midlands ambulance trusts alongside workers at Christies NHS Foundation Trust, Christies Pathology Partnership, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust will strike on Tuesday (May 2).

Unite NHS members across the UK rejected the government’s pay offer in a consultative ballot that closed today (April 28) by 52 per cent.

The ballot result revealed very high figures for grades mostly in frontline services with patients. For example, seven out of ten all ambulance paramedics who are Unite members rejected the deal.

Strikes by more than 4,000 NHS workers across England who have a mandate for industrial action will now go ahead.

The UK government offer doesn’t even match the higher settlement approved by Unite members in Scotland. For instance, 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 said, “Unite was clear from the start it was very unlikely this offer would be accepted. It is quite frankly a joke that NHS workers are being forced to fight for a decent pay rise after years of pay freezes and all their sacrifices during the pandemic. The government should be delivering generous rewards for that instead of a parade of insults bullying and lies about our industrial action. Unite will be backing our NHS members 100 per cent.

“Unite’s members will now return to the picket line to continue their fight. Rishi Sunak now needs to take over this mess, roll his sleeves up and sort it. Isn’t that what a prime minister is supposed to do – lead for goodness sake?”

Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab added, “It is increasingly clear that there is money to fund a fair pay rise, particularly from properly taxing the huge increases in profits made from the cost of living crisis by corporate profiteers. The government is choosing to let the NHS collapse. It must make the right decision, return to negotiations and put forward a better deal.”

Unite put the government offer to a 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 five per cent increase for 2023/24 does not come anywhere near to matching the real rate of inflation (RPI), currently at 13.5 per cent.

By Ryan Fletcher