The “outrageous and unfair decision” not to implement a 1% pay rise for all NHS staff working in England should be reconsidered, leading nurses have said.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has launched its What If? campaign against the government’s decision not to accept a pay review body (PRB) recommendation for a 1% increase for health staff.
The 1% will only be given to employees not entitled to an incremental pay increase, which unions have estimated will leave 70% of nurses facing a wage freeze this year.
A spokesman said that its members will be joining with health workers from other unions in a day of action across England on June 5.
The RCN’s new webpage for the campaign states: “We’re fighting for fair pay. We want to reverse the government’s outrageous and unfair decision - everyone deserves the 1% pay rise.”
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, added: “No-one is denying that times have been tough and that difficult decisions need to be made, however nurses have already done their bit.
“They’ve cared for record numbers of patients through the most disruptive reorganisation in the history of the NHS and in the face of huge workforce cuts. They deserve to be valued and appreciated and this paltry increase, which most of them won’t even see, sends a very different message.
“What if? is there to give nursing staff a voice and the RCN will be campaigning to ensure that the government listens and does the decent and honourable thing by giving nursing staff the pay rise they deserve.”
Meanwhile Unite, which represents more than 100,000 workers in the NHS, said it had a “very strong mandate” from its members to campaign for fair pay, including taking industrial action if there was no progress.
The union threatened to make the NHS a central issue of next year’s general election if the government did not change its position.
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “It is time that health secretary Jeremy Hunt sat down with the unions and listened to our proposals for fair pay for the biggest workforce in this country.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “NHS staff are our greatest asset. We cannot afford a pay rise on top of incremental pay increases of up to 6% without risking frontline jobs and safe staffing levels.
“We are disappointed that the unions rejected our offer to discuss any alternative proposals on pay, within an available budget of nearly £1bn. However, our door remains open if they wish to reconsider their position.”