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Unison seeks ballot for industrial action over NHS pay


The largest healthcare union has warned of a “winter of unrest for the NHS” as it revealed plans to ballot members for industrial action.

A meeting of the union’s healthcare executive agreed on Wednesday to seek an emergency vote at its annual healthcare conference on 15 April to obtain permission to ballot its 450,000 NHS members over potential industrial action. The move is a response to the government’s imposed pay deal.

“The decision represents a significant step towards a summer and indeed winter of unrest for the NHS”

Christina McAnea

In a letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, Unison’s head of health Christina McAnea said NHS staff “feel they have been treated unfairly and with contempt”.

She added: “A motion will be put to the floor, calling on the union to initiate a national challenge to your pay policy. Our members care deeply about their patients and the services in which they work and do not consider or take formal industrial action lightly,” she said.

“In my view, the decision from our health executive yesterday represents a significant step towards a summer and indeed winter of unrest for the NHS.”

She urged the health secretary to “pull back from the brink” and reconsider his position.

christina mcanea

Christina McAnea

The action follows the health secretary’s decision to reject a 1% pay deal for all staff last month.

Under the imposed deal staff eligible for an incremental rise will receive no separate cost of living pay rise while those staff at the top of their pay band will receive temporary, non-consolidated 1% pay rises in this year and the next.

On 14 March Mr Hunt offered to give staff a permanent 1% pay rise over the next two years if the unions agreed to a freeze on incremental pay in 2015-16. He made a similar offer in a letter sent towards the end of March, in which he called on unions agree to negotiate further alterations to the Agenda for Change contract in return for better basic pay.

Nursing Times understands Unison will reject the offer of a deal as part of plans to prepare for possible industrial action.

The government claims the imposed deal will save £200m this year and is vital to protect frontline jobs.



Readers' comments (9)

  • If I join UNISON today would I still get to ballot?

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  • This is just another part of the privatisation plans for the NHS, run it down sell it off cheap and make a fortune for themselves campaign. It has seen their attempts to close hospitals or down grade come up against strong public opinion in Lewisham, so then they tried to lie about Mid staffs, spreading nonsense which is still spewed out despite being disproved of huge amounts of needless deaths, at most one was a possibility, and drinking from non existent flower vases, all lies of course, and when that failed they brought in section 118/9 to close hospitals at will. They do not care for the nhs or its staff at all, the answer is to strike, and only take care of the people who would otherwise die, ensure the operations that are not life threatening don't take place, it is hard on the public, but they are more receptive than you may think to stopping the governments plans in this area, and we all know the HoC was packed for the vote on their pay rise.

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  • If this is such a massive issue for nurses then why are there only 2 comments on here, or are the majority of nurses so disengaged they just don't feel they have a voice anymore?

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  • Anonymous | 4-Apr-2014 11:48 am

    The members, including porters, HCAs, receptionists, etc are probably thinking about leaving the NHS to find better treatment elsewhere.
    Privatising + breaking up NHS will create more rich Tories, less quality care for those who can't afford it.

    When government selectively abides by a decision from Independent Pay Review Body, and goes against another decision, and changes laws about closing hospitals, it's no wonder people feel not listened to.

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  • Anyone joining UNISON as of today will be included in any future ballot for action

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  • I hate to say this but when it comes to issues like this we really are our own worse enemies-

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  • For those of you wanting to join UNISON to get a ballot, just remember that the last time they did this (2 years ago) they could only manage a 21% turn out. Hardly the majority of its members.

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  • Sacking ALL MPs without pay and compensation would save the country money and since so many committed what in any other profession would have been a disciplinary and criminal matter. Many people would consider that fairer than a poultry pay "rise" that does not keep pace with inflation again and does not cover the increased pension contributions.
    The LibDems need to have the b*lls to bring down this govenment and call an immediate ellection.

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  • The Lib Dems will not bring down the govt.....most will lose their jobs as the electorate will not vote for them again in case they side with the dratted Tories again.
    As for all Unison could manage was a 21% turnout... it is not up to the union to manage turnout. It provided the ballot - it is then up to the memebers to vote.

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