Unite has said it is preparing for industrial action after its NHS members voted to reject the Government’s offer of a 3% pay rise for staff on Agenda for Change contracts in England.
It announced that 90% of its health members rejected the 3% pay offer and 84% said they were willing to take some form of industrial action, in its consultative ballot that ran from 27 August to 24 September.
The union, which represents 100,000 members in the health service, will now launch a ‘comprehensive programme of targeted industrial action’ in the coming months. It will also work with other health trade unions to coordinate pay campaigns.
The programme could include not only industrial action, but rallies and a whole host of other action it will be discussing with its members, Unite told Nursing in Practice. It will also work with other health trade unions to coordinate pay campaigns.
Unite national officer for health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, said the campaign is being planned ‘despite the barriers and restrictions of the 2016 Trade Union Act’.
Under the Act, industrial action is only lawful with a ballot turnout of 50%. The turnout for Unite’s recent ballot was 25%.
Mr Jarrett-Thorpe continued: ‘We will be seeking to conduct these actions, where possible, with other public sector workers and sister unions who share our discontent on the appalling pay offered to this workforce.’
He explained to Nursing in Practice that Unite would be talking to members on the next steps. Industrial action could be taken among only ‘certain workplaces’ where feeling is particularly strong, he said.
The union’s general secretary Sharon Graham argued the Government’s 3% pay deal is ‘effectively another pay cut’.
‘With the cost of living soaring and tax hikes on the way, Unite is determined to ensure the government to think again and offer our NHS workers the fair and decent pay they undeniably deserve,’ she added.
This comes as the CPI rate of inflation rose to 3.2% in August, according to the latest data available – up from 2% in July 2021.
RCN members also voted against the 3% pay award in a similar ballot last month. The RCN Trade Union Committee is currently deciding on the ‘next steps’.