The GMB union, which represents many ambulance workers, has announced that its health service members had “overwhelmingly rejected” the current NHS pay offer.
It said that 87% of its NHS members in England who voted in a recent poll had rejected the three-year pay deal on offer for health service staff.
The results from similar consultations by Unison, Unite, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives are also expected imminently.
The proposed deal, unveiled on 21 March, was negotiated by NHS unions, the government and the body NHS Employers, which represents trusts.
The GMB was the only union to encourage its members to reject the deal, rather than accept it.
The proposed three-year offer, which was unveiled in March, includes a 6.5% pay rise for almost all nurses and other NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts.
- NHS nurse pay set to rise by 6.5% over three years under new deal
- Negotiators pin recruitment and retention hopes on new pay deal
- Exclusive: Pay proposals are ‘best possible deal’, says RCN negotiator
Under the deal, all but the very highest paid staff would get 3% in April 2018, 1.7% and a 1.1% lump sum in April 2019, and 1.7% from April 2020.
But the negotiations also included potential contract reforms that mean it will take less time to move through increments within a pay band and the removal of band 1 altogether.
As a result, negotiators said the proposals could result in some staff receiving more than the 6.5% basic pay, with controversial suggestions of to a 29% rise over the period for some.
“GMB members across the NHS and ambulance service have overwhelmingly voted to reject this pay offer”
These suggestions sparked criticism among some activists that the deal was being over-sold and calls that the deal should be rejected as a result.
However, the GMB argued that even the 6.5% would amount to “three more years of real terms pay cuts for over half of NHS employees”.
It highlighted that the Office for Budget Responsibility was forecasting that Retail Price Index inflation was set to increase by 9.6% over the next three years.
In light of the ballot result, the union said it would convene a meeting of representatives on Friday 15 June to consider its “next steps”.
GMB general secretary Tim Roache confirmed the ballot result at the union’s annual congress in Brighton on Wednesday.
Mr Roache said: “GMB members across the NHS and ambulance service have overwhelmingly voted to reject this pay offer.
Union attacks ‘grossly unfair’ car parking charges for NHS staff
“After a nearly a decade of pay pinching, the prospect of a further three years of cuts to wages is unacceptable,” he said. “GMB members have sent a clear message to Jeremy Hunt – it’s a no from us.”
Kevin Brandstatter, GMB national officer, said: “GMB recommended that our members in NHS and Ambulance Trusts reject it, and they have done so unequivocally.”
He stated that, since 2010, paramedics had lost an average of over £14,000, midwives £18,000 and staff nurse £14,500 due to the government’s 1% cap on pay rises.
“The offer won’t allow them to claw any of that cash back – in fact, for longer serving, most loyal NHS workers the 6.5% increase over three years actually means a real-terms pay cut, doesn’t put things right and continues to punish those who have endured the pinch on pay,” he said.
“It does nothing to address the recruitment and retention crisis and it leaves the door open to new employees in the NHS being employed on worse terms and conditions than existing health service workers,” he added.