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Unite health members to join October strikes

Health workers will strike on October 13th. The day after, council workers and FE lecturers will be out followed by civil servants on October 15.

Unite health members to strike over Cameron’s ‘destructive’ NHS pay policy

David Cameron’s broken promises on the NHS were further highlighted today (Friday 26 September), when NHS staff, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, voted to take strike action on Monday 13 October on NHS pay.

Besides the four-hour strike between 07.00 and 11.00 on 13 October, Unite members in England will be working to rule and adhering to the 37.5 hour week between 13 October and 9 November. Its ambulance staff will also impose an overtime ban in their respective trusts between 13-19 October.

Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “As David Cameron gathers for his party conference in Birmingham this weekend, he can contemplate the damage he and his party has wrought on the NHS in the last four years.

“One of his most destructive actions has been how he and his health secretary Jeremy Hunt have targeted NHS staff to bear the brunt of the austerity measures. Our members have seen their incomes fall by up to 15 per cent in real terms since May 2010.

“Now our members have given a resounding rejection to Cameron and his government who vetoed the one per cent pay rise, as recommended by the independent Pay Review Body (PRB). This meant that 600,000 NHS employees received no cost of living pay rise in April.

“The calibrated industrial action is designed to achieve three objectives; to get the one per cent rise paid to all 1.3 million NHS staff; respect future PRB recommendations; and obtain the ‘living wage’ to the 40,000 NHS staff being currently paid below that level.”

In England, the members voted by a 62 per cent margin in favour of strike action and by 77 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.

In Northern Ireland, the members voted by a 78 per cent margin in favour of strike action and 91 per cent for industrial action short of a strike. Unite members in Northern Ireland will be striking between 11.00-15.00 on 13 October. There will also be a demonstration at Stormont on that day.

Unite will be joining other health unions in making this major stand on pay next month.

In Scotland, the devolved government has agreed to pay the one per cent pay rise to all staff as recommended by the PRB and to implement the ‘living wage’ by paying an extra £300 to low paid workers. Unite accepted this and, therefore, did not ballot its members in Scotland.

Unite has 100,000 members in the health service.  Jeremy Hunt’s decision to reject the recommendation of one per cent for all workers by the PRB meant that only those at the top of their band pay received the one per cent increase in April. An estimated 50 per cent of the NHS workforce had to rely on their annual incremental increase, which is not necessarily guaranteed.

Unite stresses that the incremental increases are in recognition of increased knowledge and skills as staff progress in their careers, with additional performance criteria to be met – and are not part of the annual pay rise process

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