Unite has said it will be “consulting” its NHS members on possible strike action over what it described as the government’s “insulting” pay offer.
The union made the announcement this afternoon in the wake of a vote earlier today by fellow union Unison to ballot its membership for industrial action.
In the statement, Unite confirmed it would be consulting its 100,000 NHS members over possible strike action over pay. This will take the form of an indicative ballot, which is expected to take place next month.
“Unite will be consulting its membership on whether they wish to proceed to an industrial action ballot”
Depending on the outcome, Unite will then proceed to a ballot for strike action and industrial action short of a strike.
A Unite spokesman said: “We will be holding an indicative – consultative – ballot of our membership asking them if want to strike or take industrial action, or both.
“Then, depending on the outcome, we will proceed to a full industrial action ballot. It’s a two stage process,” he told Nursing Times.
The move means it is currently one step behind Unison in preparing the way for industrial action.
This morning Unison’s health conference voted to move directly to a ballot its members over industrial action, including strikes and action short of striking, over pay.
Its head of health Christina McAnea also called on other unions to support each other in an initial protest on 5 June and any subsequent industrial action.
In a statement released this afternoon, Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “Unite will be consulting its membership on whether they wish to proceed to an industrial action ballot, including strike action, over the insulting pay offer.
“Unite will be liaising with other health unions and professional associations in driving home the message that health service staff have had their fill of being treated with contempt by health secretary Jeremy Hunt. Enough is enough,” she said.
The Unite statement added that the union had “never had such angry feedback” from its members, following the announcement on pay in March.
The government chose to reject a 1% pay deal for all NHS staff in England. Instead, it is attempting to impose a deal where staff eligible for an incremental rise will receive no separate cost of living pay increase, while those at the top of their band will receive 1% rises for two years.
In comparison, the Scottish government has said all NHS staff on Agenda for Change in Scotland will get 1%. The situation in Wales and Northern Ireland remains unclear.