Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/550/6454
Union calls ballot over health pay
DELEGATES TO the Amicus/Unite NHS National Industrial Committee have voted unanimously to ballot members for action over pay in October. Industrial action will follow in late November, if members support this in the ballot.
A member of the Unite NHS committee
Unite, out of all the NHS trade unions, refused to sign up for the disastrous three-year pay deal negotiated by the Unison and Royal College of Nursing (RCN) lead negotiators. This averages about 2.5% a year from 2008 through to April 2010.
There was much frustration with Unison and the RCN officials, who concluded the deal just as inflation began to go through the roof. They now find themselves tied in knots by their eagerness to strike a deal at any price.
Unite's national officer for health, David Fleming, explained that members' pay will lag inflation by at least 50% over the next three years, and if we end up with a Tory government, NHS workers' pay could be effectively cut for the next eight years.
The low-paid simply cannot afford it. Thousands of NHS workers are in Band 2, earning around £13,000 a year, and 2.5% of their wages amounts to just £27 a month, about £4 a week after tax. Even for those in higher pay bands, eight years of pay decay will seriously affect their spending, and even worse, their pensions.
There was a sober discussion about the likely outcome of any ballot. Members do not like the fact that the other NHS unions seem to have abandoned the field, and may not be able to legally ballot to re-open the deal.
But delegates were encouraged by the likely action in the wider public sector. We have no choice but to take action to defend our living standards and to stand up for ourselves and the NHS.
Every Unite rep in the NHS now has a responsibility to show leadership and to get a 'yes' vote in the ballot. The members cannot afford this three-year deal.
In The Socialist 2 October 2008:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party review