NHS strikers in Bristol, October 2014. Pic courtesy of South West TUC by Tim Lezard NHS workers today begin a four-day work-to-rule in the latest stage of their industrial action over pay. Yesterday an estimated half a million thousands of workers – me …
by Tim Lezard
NHS workers today begin a four-day work-to-rule in the latest stage of their industrial action over pay.
Yesterday an estimated half a million thousands of workers – members of British Association of Occupational Therapists, GMB, Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, Managers in Partnership, PCS, RCM, UCATT, UNISON and Unite – took four hours’ strike action as a result of the government’s decision to ignore the Independent PRB recommendation to award a 1% pay rise to all staff. Instead, the government took the divisive decision to only award a 1% pay rise for those on top of their pay band, denying a paltry 1% increase to 60% of NHS workers.
GMB national officer Rehana Azam said: “Reports from across the country are that the strike action has been rock solid. Members are determined to get government to listen to them. It is disingenuous of the Secretary of State to state that a 1% rise in pay will give rise to job losses. GMB has consistently campaigned for a fair funding settlement for the NHS which should include funding pay rises for essential staff.
“GMB has consistently campaigned for the Treasury to plug the funding gap so that much needed NHS jobs are not put at risk. In addition GMB has consistently opposed spending £3billion that has been wasted by this government on a top down reorganisation GMB are calling on the Treasury to step in to resolve this current pay dispute.
“On incremental pay progression the Secretary of State for Health is simply wrong to say that nearly half of the staff will get an automatic 3% pay increase. There has been a long standing recognition that the NHS requires a highly qualified, skilled and experienced workforce. This means that staffs are acquiring qualifications in stages and are constantly undertaking regular training, performance development and the upgrading of their skills.
“That means that in the NHS it takes years of incremental pay progression to achieve the rate for the job. That incremental pay progression cannot be confused with uprating pay rates to keep pace with inflation. GMB has always been open to meaningful discussions to review the NHS pay structures and a possible narrowing of incremental points system so where appropriate NHS staff are able to attain the rate for the job over a shorter period. GMB remains open to these discussions.”
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Yesterday was the first time in 32 years that our members in the NHS have taken strike action over pay. They sent a clear message to the Government that they deserve fair pay and the Government cannot take advantage of their good will any longer.
“Jeremy Hunt must recognise the strength of feeling shown by our members this morning. We are repeating our calls for the government to meet with us to negotiate a fair deal for our members in the health service.”
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “Across England and Northern Ireland today, NHS workers took to the picket lines for the first time in 30 years to demand fair NHS pay.
“Given the feedback from our members, we are confident that this was a very well-supported action with over 100 picket line protests outside NHS hospitals up and down the country. NHS workers were especially thankful for all the messages of support they’ve been receiving from the public.
“We urge Jeremy Hunt to heed his responsibility to the NHS workforce and patients and to start talking with the unions to discuss fair pay for this vital staff who would rather be caring for patients than having to fight their own poverty.
“Health professionals are especially concerned that the health secretary implies that fair wages for them mean job losses, but he does nothing to curb pay excess by corporate chief executives or the horrific £3 billion cost of this government’s useless reorganisation of the NHS.
“The health unions are calling for the government not to impose limits on what can be achieved for this essential workforce, but to come to the table prepared to negotiate in a meaningful way.”
PCS members are taking strike action tomorrow, with SoR members walking out on Monday.
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