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Unions vow to strike over NHS pay cuts


Any attempts to cut the pay of NHS staff and other public-sector workers may lead to strikes, unions have warned.

Unions were challenging statements by Chancellor Alistair Darling that future wages must be ‘fair’ to private-sector workers facing a recession-fuelled pay squeeze.

He in turn had been responding to calls by Audit Commission boss Steve Bundred for £5bn to be cut from the wages bill to help the economy recover from the downturn.

Mr Bundred claimed that public-sector workers would ‘tolerate’ a freeze as they had ‘done well’ over the last 10 years.

But union leaders warned that any suggestion that the Government might try to impose real-terms pay cuts would spark demands for strike action.

Mr Darling had told Sky News’ Sunday Live that public-sector pay ‘obviously must reflect prevailing conditions, particular in view of the fact that inflation is falling’.

He was backed by shadow business secretary Ken Clarke, who said: ‘Public sector pay certainly has to reflect what is going on in the private sector to some extent, and it had also got to reflect the current low level of inflation.’

He criticised the ‘absurd explosion’ in public-sector pay in previous years.


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Readers' comments (11)

  • I can believe this, but am utterly disgusted. It is not bad enough that us nursing staff do 5 people's jobs because we are constantly short staffed? Now they want to freeze pay rises. Which is significant to me on a band 2, which is a shocking wage anyway. I'd like to see how they coped if we did strike.

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  • It is interesting statement from mr Clarke regarding public sector pay needing to reflect private sector pay. What he failed to make clear is that this seemingly only applies when times are hard, years of private sector growth when pay increases were in line with and above the rate of inflation at a time when public sector pay was pinned down to 2% and under are forgotten about. After saying this I think we are in exceptional times and it would do no one any good putting the country into further debt so would support a pay freeze for a year then would be more than happy to accept pay increases in line with MPs.

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  • This is just unbelievable. How could nurses cope with this. They've already squeezed what they can squeeze from us, but they are not yet contented and they want to freeze our pay.

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  • Nurses are always at the thin end of the wedge. Why should be the ones, yet again to pay the price for the incompetence of others,

    If the government stopped handouts to every Tom, Dick and Harry. There must be a fair way of social payments to people that pay in to the system and stop payments to people that haven't.

    In America there is a time limit of 5 years I think, over a life time that people can claim unemployment benefit. We need to be helping people to gain work and/or they work for there benefits.

    The government cannot be held to ransom any more than it can try to hold us to ransom.

    It is time to get our house in order without penalising the normal worker.

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  • I hear at our place they want to cut so many band 6 to band 5 and so many band 3 to band 2 in the next 12 to 18 month's, to save job cuts! What I want to know is it legal to have your pay cut? About 20 year ago when grading first came out a senior enrolled nurse who was on staff nurse pay got banded a grade C, whch would have ment a pay cut. She was then allowed to carry on with her original pay for the following 5 years. She then retired after her five years were up, luckily for her!!

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  • If all the MPs payed back their expences claims over the past five years and run the country with a bit more patriatsm and honesty then maybe none of us would be in this situation. Its easy to always target nurse or teachers why don't they offer to work because they believe in the cause and are not in it for the money (like we do).

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  • I am so sick of this.

    I hope Nurses do strike. Then we can start demanding - as doctors do - the money we deserve as people start to remember just how essential we are.

    This country would not have a health service if it wasn't for us nurses. We are already doing our own jobs, doctors jobs as well as a whole load of extra admin on top, so lets just remember the contribution that nurses make, and pay us accordingly. If the government or the public don't like it, then they can always consider the alternative whilst we sit out on strike?

    I'm guessing it wouldn't take long for them to come round to our way of thinking.

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  • I'm sorry but I disagree with the accepting pay freeze comment.

    The band 2 wage is way below inflation, I earned more working in a call center! I don't understand cutting back front line, which they always seem to do.

    Instead, cut down the pen pushers, we have so many at our place. And some job roles are really not needed.

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  • Would GP's accept this? No way. It seems that the unions are doing little to fight our case either. More frequently I am seeing nurses devalued in job adverts, e.g Nurse Practitioners on Band 6, Prescribers on Band 6, these are wage cuts by stealth and the unions are allowing it. Nurses, have some self respect and DO NOT accept a job on a lower banding when your skills and experience should deserve more.

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  • I can see them now waving their little pieces of paper at the other side and going ya, ya, hear, hear,. Thats not a Job its a load of thieves taking what they can whilst they are in office. They don't give a dam about nurses, teachers or council workers low pay. So why not hit the poor again, leaving the knobbs at the top with BIG FAT BONUSES. It makes me feel sick thinking of all those people in government doing very little for so much.

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