The threat of industrial action by health workers over pay is set to come closer this week amid public support for higher wages in the NHS.
Delegates at Unison’s annual health conference in Brighton on Tuesday will debate the government’s decision to reject a 1% pay deal for all staff, in spite of recommendations from the NHS review body.
“It is time the government gave nurses and health workers a fair deal”
Under the imposed deal staff eligible for an incremental rise will receive no separate cost of living pay rise while those staff at the top of their pay band will receive temporary, non-consolidated 1% pay rises for two years.
As reported by Nursing Times on 3 April, the conference will debate calls for a campaign of industrial action in protest at the decision.
The union’s healthcare executive will seek an emergency vote at the conference to obtain permission to ballot its 450,000 NHS members over potential industrial action.
Meanwhile, ahead of the vote, Unison today published an opinion poll of over 2,000 members of the public, which showed support for nurses to be paid £26,120 as a basic annual starting salary, around £5,000 more than they currently get.
Well over half of those surveyed said nurses should get more than they are currently paid.
Unison’s head of health, Christina McAnea, said: “The poll shows how out of step the government is with public opinion. It is clear the public values the work of nurses more than the government.
“Their provocative pay offer denies a pay rise to a majority of NHS workers and has created a lot of anger among NHS staff,” she said.
“Pay in the NHS has essentially been cut by at least 10% since the start of the coalition. It is time the government gave nurses and health workers a fair deal.”