Unison’s NHS members vote ‘yes’ to strike action

18 Sep 14
Unison’s health workers have voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action in the ongoing pay dispute.

In a ballot, which followed the government’s decision to reject the independent Pay Review Body recommendations, 68% of NHS workers said they would be prepared to take part in a strike. In a second ballot, 88% of members said they would be prepared to take action short of strike action.

According to Unison, the government’s decision on pay means that 60% of NHS staff and 70% of nurses will not get a pay rise for the next two years.

Commenting on the result, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘This government’s treatment of NHS workers has angered them and this anger has now turned into action. Refusing to pay them even a paltry 1% shows what the government really thinks about its health workers. Inflation has continued to rise since 2011 and the value of NHS pay has fallen by around 12%.’

He noted that the last action of pay was 32 years ago and said the union would work with NHS employers to minimise the impact on patients.

‘But it's not too late for Jeremy Hunt to act to avoid this and we repeat our offer to the government to negotiate with us. To date the secretary of state has refused to meet with health unions to negotiate pay.’

In response to the ballot, NHS Employers urged staff not to strike.

Gill Bellord, director of employment relations and reward at NHS Employers organisation, said: ‘This yes-vote is disappointing for the NHS and will concern thousands of patients who rely on its services, as well as many staff. But we remain hopeful that a decision will be made not to proceed with strike action.

‘We completely understand the frustration of many staff following a prolonged period of pay restraint but patient safety must always be our first priority. Employers need to maximise their ability to retain staff and plan changes to how they work in response to the changing needs of patients, and major financial challenges have made stark choices inevitable.’



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