UNIONS representing nurses, firefighters, teachers, council workers and every other section announced strike ballots and ‘calls to action’ to achieve inflation-busting pay rises in response to Tuesday’s miserly Tory public sector pay offer.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which has been instructed by its members to fight for a pay rise of ‘inflation-plus-5%’ sent an email to hundreds of thousands of nursing staff on Tuesday night.
RCN Chair of Council, Carol Popplestone and RCN General Secretary, Pat Cullen, said late on Tuesday: ‘Today the UK government confirmed its pay award for NHS staff in England for the year 2022-23. This is yet another pay cut in real terms and we’re clear that nursing deserves better.
‘Tonight, an emergency session of your elected Council voted that members in England will be balloted on industrial action.
‘After years of underpayment and staff shortages, the fight for fair pay must continue. Your voice in the upcoming ballot will be essential to turning the tide on low pay.
‘Their announcement tried desperately to mislead the public on nursing pay. We need your help in calling it out. This pay award does not help you with the rising cost of living – inflation is rising much higher. It will do nothing to help to recruit or retain more nursing staff where you work. It does not recognise the skill and responsibility of the job you do. Sadly, it will not keep patients safe.’
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘The so-called wage offer amounts to a massive national pay cut. Unite will stand 100 per cent with our public sector members. We will defend them and fight for them, in all and every action they wish to take.’
The GMB said: ‘Today’s announcement on public sector pay in England, which for NHS workers comes four months late, is another kick in the teeth. With RPI inflation standing at 11.7 per cent, the offer represents another real-terms cut for public sector workers. GMB will now consult members on the pay offer.’
The Fire Brigades Union Executive Council met to consider the results of discussions with FBU members on the employers’ proposal for a 2% increase in pay and voted unanimously to reject the 2% pay offer. The employers will now be informed of this.
Furthermore, the FBU Executive Council has ‘agreed that plans should be urgently prepared to develop our campaign for decent pay, including the need to prepare for strike action. All FBU members are asked to fully participate in such discussions; all voices need to be heard.’
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘It’s an outrage that millions of our public sector colleagues have been told to accept half the rate of inflation, and it puts into further shocking focus the fact our members – the government’s own workforce – are being told to accept even less.
‘Brave workers in a number of unions, including within PCS, are already taking action over intolerable pay and our members will be balloted to join them in the autumn. We’ll be talking to our colleagues in other unions about organising co-ordinated national strike action.’
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said teachers will not stand for ‘another huge cut’ to the real value of their pay during spiralling inflation.
‘Given this very poor pay proposal, we will look towards consulting our members in the autumn.
‘This will be the largest ballot of teachers for a generation.’
Christina McAnea, general secretary of Unison, said the government has made a ‘big mistake’ and the pay deal ‘fails on every front’. ‘Fed-up staff might well now decide to take the matter into their own hands,’ she warned.