Strike action over pay by NHS members of Unison has been scheduled to take place on 13 October, the union has announced.
Unison confirmed today that its members working in the NHS in England would stage a four-hour stoppage between 7am and 11am on Monday 13 October.
The stoppage will be followed by four days of action short of strike action when members will stop working through their breaks and instead take their breaks. These are scheduled to take place between Tuesday 14 and Friday 17 October.
“We are working with NHS employers to minimise the impact on patients”
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “NHS members don’t take action often or lightly.
“For many of our members this will be the first time they walk out as the last action over pay was 32 years ago,” he said. “The NHS runs on the goodwill of its workers, but this government has shown utter contempt for them.”
Mr Prentis added: “We are working with NHS employers to minimise the impact on patients.”
The announcement follows the results of a ballot by Unison, which were revealed last week and that it has described as “strong”.
The union said 68% of respondents voted in favour of industrial action, including strikes, and 88% to action short of striking.
However, Unison refused to reveal how many of its 300,000 NHS members took part in the ballot. Based on available data, Nursing Times has calculated that turnout could have been as low as 13%.
Another nine unions are currently balloting NHS members over pay, including Unite, the GMB and the Royal College of Midwives. Results are expected over coming days and weeks.
The ballots come in response to the government in England’s decision to reject the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendation to increase the pay of all staff in Agenda for Change by 1%.
Ministers have offered a two-year deal in which staff at the top of their pay band will receive 1%, but those due incremental pay awards get not further rise.
In addition, the 1% increase is non-consolidated, meaning it will not count towards pension entitlements or shift pay and may not be permanent.
The Welsh government has said it too would not be following the Pay Review Body’s recommendations. Instead, all staff on Agenda for Change will get a one-off payment of £160 and those not at the top of pay bands will get an incremental pay rise.
The Scottish government is the only UK government so far to accept the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body to award all staff a 1% consolidated increase.
The Northern Ireland government has yet to announce its arrangements.