FOR the first time in history midwives are uniting with other health workers to ballot for strike action, in an escalating fight over a measly 1% pay rise.
Unison and the Royal College of Midwives announced they would be balloting over the pay offer made by the government in March.
Ministers said NHS staff would get 1%, but it would only apply to those who did not get automatic progression-in-the-job rises.
These cover about half of the staff and are worth 3% a year on average.
RCM said: ‘Midwives and maternity support workers working in the NHS in England are to be balloted on whether they will take industrial action over the Government’s refusal to award the 1% pay increase recommended by the NHS Pay Review Body, to all NHS staff. Instead they have imposed a two year settlement which undermines the pay of midwives and other staff.
‘In an extraordinary meeting on Monday night, the RCM Board made the unanimous decision to formally ballot members in England following the RCM’s consultation in June. In the consultation 94.3% of members voted they were prepared to take industrial action, with a response rate of 46.5%.
‘The RCM’s 26,000 members in England will be balloted in September with potential industrial action expected to take place in October.
‘RCM members will be asked two questions, if they are prepared to take strike action and if they are prepared to take industrial action short of a strike. The ballot result will be considered by the RCM Board who will make the decision about the next steps and the action to be taken.’
Commenting, Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘Midwives are at the end of their tether. They have already accepted long-term pay restraint and changes to their pension and terms and conditions.
‘Meanwhile they are working harder and harder to deliver high quality care with continuing shortages of midwives and daily pressures on services.’
Unison is to ballot its 300,000 NHS members in England for strike action.
Unison said in a statement: ‘The ballot is in response to the Government’s decision to deny 60% of NHS staff and 70% of nurses a pay rise for the next two years. It will begin on 28th August and run until 18 September.
‘The ballot will cover health workers including nurses, therapists, porters, paramedics, medical secretaries, cooks, cleaners and healthcare assistants. A yes vote will lead to stoppages in early October, followed by further strikes and action short of a strike over the Autumn and Winter.
‘The ballot follows the Government’s decision to ignore the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendations and instead give a 1% non-consolidated increase only to staff at the top of their incremental scale.
‘Because the award is non-consolidated it will not count towards pension entitlements or shift pay and will be wiped away at the end of March 2016.’
Christina McAnea, UNISON Head of Health, said: ‘This Government is showing complete contempt for NHS workers.
‘It has swept aside the Pay Review Body’s recommendations and ignored the union’s call for a fair deal.
‘Our members are angry at the way they are being treated and we are left with little choice but to ballot for action.’