Union members call for ballot on strike action over NHS pay deal

Thousands of healthcare professionals are calling for a ballot on strike action over the proposed NHS pay deal.

Yesterday NHS staff in England were offered a 6.5% pay deal which spanned over three years but with the OBR forecasting that RPI inflation is set to increase by 9.6% over the next three years - the deal falls short of a genuine pay rise and will still see the majority of healthcare staff worse off than they are today.

The deal is fully funded by the Treasury. £4.2 billion of extra money will be given to the NHS in England, but unions have warned the government may withdraw this funding if the deal is not accepted - a move that many have calling scaremongering.

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Similar deals are expected to be announced in Scotland and Wales.

The proposal ensures newly qualified healthcare professionals would be rewarded quickly with faster incremental progression but the proposed pay deal would see long-serving, experienced, staff rewarded the least - a tactic many claim is designed to divide the workforce.

Despite rumours, annual leave allowances and some unsociable hours payments are untouched but there are several issues that have been identified with the deal.

  • Increments not automatic nor based on experience but the fulfilment of unspecified criteria.
  • Unsociable hours for bands 1, 2 and 3 have been cut and changes suggested to ambulance trusts.
  • Long-serving and dedicated staff will see smaller rises than their more junior counterparts.
  • Support staff will see their wages capped after just two years in post.
  • The 6.5% rise is below the OBRs forecasted 9.6% rate of inflation.

Healthcare activists have taken to social media to calls for members to reject the deal and call on unions to instead ballot their members on the potential industrial action as the deal fails to make up for the 14% real-terms pay cut staff have experienced over the past 7 years.

Fourteen health care unions, including the Royal College of Nursing, Unison and the Royal College of Midwives have been negotiating the deal with NHS Employers since November 2017.

Presently, only the GMB is recommending its members reject the pay deal.

Kevin Brandstatter, GMB National Officer, said: "Jeremy Hunt's promise of jam tomorrow is simply not good enough for NHS workers who, during the past eight years, have faced the biggest pay pinch in living memory.

“Long-serving, dedicated health service workers have had thousands of pounds swiped from their pay packets since 2010 by the Government’s cruel and unnecessary pay cap.

“After all that suffering is a below inflation pay rise the best they can offer?

“If it is, GMB will have to recommend that our members in NHS and Ambulance Trusts reject it.

“Since 2010, paramedics have lost an average of over £14,000, midwives £18,000 and staff nurse £14,500.

“This deal won’t allow them to claw any of that cash back – in fact, for longer serving, most loyal NHS workers the 6.5% increase over three years actually means a real terms pay cut.

“This deal doesn’t put things right and continues to punish those who have endured the pinch on pay.

“It does nothing to address the recruitment and retention crisis that is driving workers from our NHS and has left 100,000 positions unfilled.

"And it leaves the door being opened to new employees in the NHS being employed on worse terms and conditions than existing health service workers through third party shell companies is deeply troubling.”

You can see how the proposals would affect you here.

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