Unite will recommend members not to support the UK government’s “too little, too late” three per cent pay award.
The union will hold a consultative ballot of its health service members to see if they wish to take industrial action over the ‘grossly inadequate’ pay offer for NHS workers in England.
Unite’s national health committee, which represents 100,000 members in the health service, decided at its meeting today (August 6) that consultation of its health service members will open on 27 August and will run until 24 September.
There will also be a day of action on 25 August, where Unite members and workplace representatives will be involved in numerous activities to highlight the inadequacies of the pay award.
The consultative ballot comes against a backdrop of 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 national officer for health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, said, “Today’s national health committee meeting decided to recommend to members not to support the government’s three per cent pay award.
“We will be holding a consultative ballot of members about this and an indicative industrial action ballot simultaneously to see if they wish to proceed to a full-scale industrial action ballot, which will include the option for strike action,” he added.
“Our national health committee, made up of members employed in the NHS, believes the proposed pay award is an grossly inadequate award given the sacrifices they have made during the continuing Covid crisis.
“It also does not reflect the large real terms decrease in their pay they have had to endure since the Tories came to power in 2010,” Jarrett-Thorpe continued.
“By adopting this twin-track approach, Unite’s national health committee will be able to gauge very accurately the depth of members’ feelings towards this three per cent pay offer.
“The decisions we take in September will reflect what the membership decides. We are urging members not to support this award,” he went on to say.
“If we want to challenge this award, we urge our members to join with us and act, so the government will no longer treat NHS workers with the contempt they have shown.
“This starts with our day of action on 25 August and is the first step of a journey to engage our members and show NHS workers will not continue to accept or support a paltry pay rise that does not address the serious issues in the health service.
“Three per cent will also do very little to staunch the escalating ‘recruitment and retention’ crisis. 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.
“If members do decide they want to take industrial action, the union is in a strong position to support them 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.
Unite’s health sector is the biggest industrial sector of Unite the Union, with 100,000 members across the widest range of health sector jobs, professions and occupations up and down the country.
By Ryan Fletcher