68% of workers favour a strike
Two thirds of NHS workers under the Unison healthcare union have voted in favour of strike action over pay.
68% of the nurses, healthcare assistants, porters and doctors said they were prepared to strike, whilst 88% voted for industrial action short of a strike. Three other unions – the Royal College of Midwives, GMB and Unite, are also balloting their members with the results expected to come in over the following weeks.
Staff are wishing to strike due to ministers going against recommendations of the independent pay review, not offering the 1% across the board pay increase to those who already receive an automatic progression in the job rise. The in the job rise is designed to reward professional development and is allocated out to approximately half of staff, being worth about 3% a year on average.
Unison currently has 300,000 NHS members, and is expected to wait until the results of the other union ballots before deciding on a course of action. This could take the strike numbers up to 400,000, with midwives also being balloted for the first time in their history.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis told BBC News “This government’s treatment of NHS workers has angered them and this anger has now turned into action. We know health workers don’t take strike action lightly or often. The last action over pay was 32 years ago. But we also know a demoralised and demotivated workforce isn’t good for patients. If we move into industrial action we will work with NHS employers to minimise the impact on patients.”
Gill Bellord, of NHS Employers, said “I would strongly urge unions to take patients out of this dispute and instead continue constructive discussions, exploring ways to come out of this period of pay restraint in a sustainable way.”