An industrial action ballot is one of the options that Unite the union will be considering as it steps up its campaign for a fair and decent pay rise for NHS staff.
Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, will be liaising with other health unions as to the next steps in the pay justice campaign, as the row continues over the government’s evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) which recommends a one per cent rise for 2021-22. The PRB is due to report in May.
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “Following yesterday’s ‘slap in the face’’ announcement that the government wants to peg NHS pay at one per cent for 2021-22, Unite will be considering all its options, including the holding of an industrial action ballot, as our pay campaign mounts in the coming weeks.
“We will be fully consulting our members on the next steps, given that inflation could be two per cent by the end of 2021, so what prime minister Boris Johnson is recommending is another pay cut in real terms.
“The prime minister has a short memory as it was only last spring that he was praising to the skies those NHS staff who had saved his life
“This proposal shows an unyielding contempt by ministers for those who have done so much to care for tens of thousands of Covid-19 patients in the last year. It should not be forgotten that more than 620 health and social care staff have lost their lives to coronavirus.
“We will also be consulting the other health unions and professional bodies to coordinate and strengthen our approach to the pay campaign – mobilising public opinion will be key.
“The public is rightly outraged by a government that can spend £37bn on the flawed private sector-led ‘test and trace’ programme, but can’t find the cash for a decent pay rise for those on the NHS frontline.
“Some estimates reckon that a one per cent pay rise will be the equivalent of £3.50-a-week for the average NHS worker, which is shabby compared to how ‘friends’ of the Tory establishment have profited so greatly from the ‘fast track’ PPE contracts.
“It leaves a sour taste in the mouth and insults the British public’s sense of fair play. We believe that public opinion will be key in shaming the government into changing its recommendations to the NHS Pay Review Body.
“What the government is proposing will do nothing for NHS staff morale and will have a deterrent effect on filling the estimated 80,000 -100,000 vacancies in the health service, of which about 40,000 are unfilled nurse posts – the very people that care for Covid-19 patients every hour of every day.
“Chancellor Rishi Sunak will suffer severe reputational damage if he fails to deliver the money necessary to fund a decent pay rise after a decade of austerity that has seen the pay packets of many NHS staff shrink by 19 per cent in real terms since the Tories came to power in 2010.
“Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, will continue to make the case strongly that NHS staff deserve an immediate pay rise of £3,000-a-year or 15 per cent, whichever is greater.
“Even this figure won’t start to make up for the 19 per cent decrease in pay in real terms that many NHS workers have lost since the Tories came to power in 2010.”
Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble