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Union members threaten action over proposed cuts to out of hours pay


Union members have warned they are prepared to go on strike if the government goes ahead with its plans to cut NHS workers’ unsocial hours payments.

At Unison’s annual healthcare conference in Liverpool, members called for a “vigorous” campaign to be launched against plans unveiled earlier this year that could see the payments cut in order to make the NHS a so-called “seven-day service”.

“Our members are angry and anxious about the threat to unsocial hour payments”

Debra Tickle

The union’s North West regional health committee, which moved the motion at the conference yesterday,  accused the government of failing to invest properly in the NHS to cope with increased demand, and of “attacking” staff by suggesting extra pay for unsocial hours is cut.


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The committee members urged conference delegates to be clear about why these payments were justified and the health impacts of doing shift work.

“They incentivise work outside normal working hours, compensate for the disruption of people’s normal diet and sleep patterns, compensate for negative health implications and impact on the household, not seeing children on weekends, not having family time,” it stated.

“They also provide much needed extra income in the context of low pay,” said branch members,” it added.

A midwife from Homerton University Hospital Trust in London who supported the motion, said she and her colleagues were prepared to work unsocial hours because it benefited patient care, but that they deserved to be compensated for it.

“We do this because we care, but we also deserve to be cared for and valued for the work we do,” she said. “Antisocial payments are not a bonus or perk of the job, they are fair payment for the work we do.”

Debra Tickle, from the union’s healthcare service group executive team, said if proposals to reduce unsocial hours payments were implemented it would place “serious limits” on the NHS’s ability to deliver the “seven day service”.

She said: “Our members are angry and anxious about the threat to unsocial hour payments.

“We know many are even angrier about this issue than they were during the pay dispute and will take whatever action is necessary to defend the unsocial hours premium,” she said.

The motion to mount a campaign against cuts to existing unsocial hours payments and to ballot members on industrial action if attempts were made to implement the reductions was passed overwhelmingly.

Meanwhile, members also passed a motion to support further campaigns on NHS pay to see wages restored in light of recent pay freezes and increased in the future at least in line with the rate of inflation

Members claimed that NHS pay now lagged further behind other private and public sectors, which meant it was difficult to recruit and retain staff within the health service.

They said this meant trusts were now employing staff in role they did not meet the requirements for, resulting in a “deskilling” of the workforce.

A motion was passed to highlight this growing skills shortage among workers to the government and use it to argue for a “properly funded NHS” .


Readers' comments (4)

  • This is really the absolute last straw. Unsocial pay is partially a compensation for working unsocial hours, missing out on family life, working shift patterns that impact on all aspects of life, including our physical and mental health. It is also vital for NHS patients and services that staff are able and willing to works these hours.
    If this attack cannot generate action against this government (or any other who would try to remove unsocial hours), then nothing ever will and we can say goodbye to the NHS and other public services as we know them. This would not only affect staff currently but also in the future as it would also have a significant impact on pensions and therefore in to retirement.
    Threatening action is no use unless actual action takes place and this means all NHS workers, no matter their role or working patterns not moaning about the situation and hoping someone else will do something about it, but supporting each other and their unions (proper ones, not RCN who ride on everyone else’s coat tails like in the last industrial action) in taking direct action and taking personal responsibility for the situation.
    Oh, there is also an election coming up, start your action at the ballot box!

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  • Lost for words. Too angry to even try to comment!

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  • Perhaps this might spur nurses into action, ie industrial action, as nothing else has so far.

    This government really do not care a damn about nhs staff and nurses. We cannot let them get their own way on this. Hospitals would have great trouble getting nurses to weekends and nights without the enhancements, and they need to know that it's not negotiable.

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  • well you know who to vote for on may 7th

    labour have said they will protect unsocial hours payments

    these tories have never given a toss about the nhs and especially the staff who work hard under intense pressures

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