An immediate reopening of talks on a substantial pay increase for NHS staff has been called for by Unite, the largest union in the country, in its own evidence to the Pay Review Body (PRB).
Unite, which this week started balloting its members on taking industrial action, including strike action, has always respected the independence of the PRB from ministerial interference.
Unite National Officer for Health, Karen Reay, said: "It is entirely logical that Unite should be submitting its own PRB evidence, while at the same time canvassing its members for industrial action over the derisory three-year pay deal imposed by the government, contrary to the PRB's recommendation for this year."
In its evidence, Unite said that there is a "lack of economic rationale" behind the government's argument that public sector pay causes inflation.
"The economic crisis and recession should not be seen as a reason to decrease investment in the NHS and avoid tackling the problems in staffing levels that Staff Side believe are quickly approaching. Previous low levels of pay for NHS staff and a lack of investment led to a decay in the service."
Unite is also looking for NHS employers to bear the full cost of registration fees for health care professionals – a legal requirement – and not half the annual fee of £38, currently available in England only.
In a bid to combat the "long hours" culture in the NHS, Unite is calling for discussions to be opened to reduce the 37.5 hour week to 35 hours.
Unite is currently holding a ballot of its members in the NHS on taking industrial action which closes on 12 November.
Do you support Unite's call for strike action about pay?
Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"Absolutely. It's a shame that Unite sided with the RCN in accepting the government's derisory pay offer. If they had sided instead with other unions, primarily the GMB, then we may not have been in this position. It's also about time the unions trumpeted the fact that the RCN is not a union, but a professional body; and is there to promote nursing only.
Standards for protecting the wellbeing of individual nurses with their problems varies widely around the country and in some areas there is total ennui. I urge all nurses to join a proper union that will fight for your wellbeing and more pay and recognition, and protection when the need arises. They are cheaper, you dont get bombarded with tissue viability/continence care leaflets, and they offer the same sort of legal indemnity that the RCN does. The GMB have been excellent in my area and I can recommend them to any nurse." - Name and address supplied
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