HEALTH workers, furious about the government’s offer of a below-inflation 3% pay deal are to be consulted by their unions, the BMA, RCM, RCN, GMB, Unison and Unite over taking industrial action.
After once again bypassing Parliament with the Tory Health Secretary’s announcement on Wednesday evening, the Speaker of the House of Commons was livid.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle made a special announcement in Parliament: ‘We were given an NHS update on Wednesday at 5pm with no mention at all of the pay deal for NHS workers a point of great political interest. I find it hard to believe that any negotiations were still going on beyond that time. The government has to ensure that the House is the first and not the last to know.
‘I know that the Secretary of State got “pinged”, but if he does want to make announcements from his garden, somebody could have been here, Minister’s could have shared that information with us.’
Responding to the NHS pay announcement, RCN Interim General Secretary and Chief Executive, Pat Cullen, said: ‘After a shambolic day, comes a shambolic announcement. When the Treasury expects inflation to be 3.7%, ministers are knowingly cutting pay for an experienced nurse by over £200 in real-terms.
‘This announcement is light on detail. It must be fully-funded with additional monies for the NHS and ringfenced for the workforce bill.
‘Nursing staff will remain dignified in responding to what will be a bitter blow to many. But the profession will not take this lying down. We will be consulting our members on what action they would like to take next.’
Doctors’ union the BMA said they are ‘extremely disappointed’ by the government’s announced 3% pay uplift for doctors in England. The Association says it doesn’t go far enough in recognising the efforts made by frontline staff in the last 18 months – and will leave some doctors worse off than others.
BMA consultants committee chair elect Dr Vishal Sharma said: ‘Over the coming days and weeks, the BMA will be talking to members affected by today’s announcement to better understand what next steps they may want the Association to take in response to this offer.’
The chair of the Junior Doctors Committee, Dr Sarah Hallett, said: ‘The burden shouldered by junior doctors during the pandemic has been immense, and therefore the government’s decision to exclude them from the pay uplift announced today is nothing short of insulting.
‘In refusing to award the additional 1% to junior doctors in England above their multi-year pay deal, Ministers have shown little regard for the enormous contributions of junior doctors over the last 18 months.’
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said the independent Pay Review Body’s recommendation for 2021/2022 did not even keep up with the RPI rate of inflation, currently at 3.9 per cent, and it also did not start to make up for the 19 per cent loss of earnings in real terms that many NHS staff have suffered since the Tories came to power in 2010.
Unite said that it would be consulting its health members on the next steps with a range of options on the table, including a consultative ballot for industrial action with the option to strike.
Unite’s long-standing policy has been an immediate pay rise of £3,000-a-year or 15 per cent, whichever is greater.
Trade Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘NHS staff and their unions, together with massive public support, have forced the government to abandon their plan to give our NHS workers a real-terms pay cut.
‘But it is still less than the four per cent rise NHS staff will get in Scotland. Outsourced NHS staff such as many cleaners and porters are excluded.’
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer said: ‘NHS staff are on their knees – exhausted, fatigued and anxious – as we look set to enter another wave of the Covid pandemic. Staff morale is rock bottom.’
GMB said it is now consulting members on the pay offer and will be recommending they say no to the ‘paltry’ response from the government.
Unison head of health and chair of the joint health unions Sara Gorton said: ‘Dedicated staff have been waiting far too long for a decent pay rise. That the government has moved from the insult of 1% shows ministers realise the damage that’s been done. Unions will now consult their members to determine their approach to the 3% pay award.’