Nurses came within a few votes of strike action over pay at Unison’s Healthcare Service Group Conference yesterday.
A show of hands over whether to accept an emergency motion that would put the proposed three-year 8% pay rise to members was passed on a card vote after a show of hands was indecisive.
Had the motion failed, members would have been asked to vote on a second emergency motion proposing immediate industrial action, including a strike, over pay.
A third emergency motion, which asked for the rejection of the multi-year deal and acceptance of only the 2.75% recommended by the NHS Pay Review Body last month, was also overturned.
There were 214,059 votes in favour of a consultative ballot, scheduled to take place in May, with 201,001 against in the card vote.
Earlier, there had been a passionate debate about whether or not to accept the deal, which many members argued was a real-terms pay cut.
Sarah Creagh, member for Central Bristol Health, said: ‘We have to have the confidence to let members of staff fight for better pay and conditions.’
But Lillian Macer, speaking on behalf of the Service Group Executive, urged members to back a ballot of the proposed deal. ‘We have to give our members the right to have their say on whether to accept or reject the proposals,’ she said.