Friday, 25 July 2014

UNISON to ballot NHS workers for Industrial Action over Pay

UNISON members working in the NHS will be balloted for Industrial Action over Pay. The ballot will run from 28th August to 18th September.

The real value of NHS pay has been falling for five years.

Pay in the NHS has not kept in line with inflation and staff have not received an above-inflation pay rise since 2009. This year 60% of NHS staff will not get any pay rise and only those at the top of their bands will receive a 1% unconsolidated lump sum.

The 1% unconsolidated lump sum is a one-off payment which does not alter the hourly rate, so it will not count towards unsocial hours for evening, weekend or night shifts, it will not be added to overtime, it will not be added to any supplements (such as high cost area supplements, local recruitment and retention premia, or on-call arrangements) and it does not count towards pensionable pay.

If members vote ‘yes’, it is proposed that members will take action during a week in October. This is likely to start with a short stoppage followed by a defined form of action short of strike, such as insisting that members take their breaks.

Members will be sent a ballot paper with questions asking whether they are prepared to take strike action and/or action short of strike action.

We are urging members to vote yes for both strike action and action short of strike. However, we are also urging all members, whatever their view, to vote to ensure we have a high ballot turn out.

What do we want?

If UNISON members vote yes we will be taking action for an immediate 1% consolidated uplift for all and the Living Wage, to end the pay freeze for 2015-16 and increases in the future that will restore the value of NHS pay.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt MP ignored the recommendation of a 1% increase

The independent Pay Review Body for the NHS recommended a 1% increase to all pay points for all staff across all four countries, however health secretary Jeremy Hunt MP ignored them in March and announced an unconsolidated payment for only a minority of staff in England.

A third of NHS staff do not get paid enough to live on

More than a third of NHS staff, who are non medical, are paid less than £21,000 a year and the bottom two pay points - bands 1 and 2 - are below the living wage. The government has failed to lift those staff out of in-work poverty. But this does not save money as people not paid enough to live on rely on in-work benefits.

Cutting pay affects whole families
Over half of UNISON members working in the NHS have school-age children, a third are carers for elderly relatives and 20% have infants.

The UK can afford to pay people enough to live on

The current living wage rates (from 4 November 2013) are £7.65 an hour outisde London, and £8.80 an hour in London. To bring the bottom two NHS pay points up to the living wage would mean an annual increase of £664 for someone on pay point one and £305 for someone pay point two.

To do that would cost:

£17.6m in England
approximately £240,000 in Northern Ireland
approximately £1.4m in Cymru/Wales
or around £19m to £20m in total across all four countries.

The total NHS budget for 2012-13 was £108.9bn and the Clinical Commissioning Groups are already reporting an under-spend of £97m for 2013/14 – enough to pay the Living Wage in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

A pay rise for a minority is divisive

Giving an increase only to those who have reached the top of their grade is divisive and means that staff who are starting work now have to cope with increased workloads, more unpaid extra hours and fewer opportunities for promotion, but don’t get the same packages because they have not been there as long.

Cutting pay does not save jobs

Last year more than 10,000 jobs were lost as a result of the unnecessary restructuring of the NHS in England. The government has tried to argue that cutting pay means more jobs, but in fact it is making cuts to both pay and jobs. On top of that comes "downbanding", where whole grades of staff are re-graded for budget reasons.

Staff need to know they’re valued

Staff need to be treated well. The NHS is facing unprecedented challenges, telling more than half the workforce that they are not worth even a tiny pay rise will not help to engage them in meeting these challenges.

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