Unite ballots NHS workers over government-imposed `massive national pay cut’

100,000 workers across England and Wales step closer to strike over miserable 4% offer

A ballot of Unite the union members across the NHS in England and Wales is now underway taking the possibility of a strike one step closer over the nations’ respective governments’ pay settlements for the coming year.

Unite is recommending its members vote yes to industrial action.

The union has slammed the imposed pay settlement, which works out at four per cent for those in the middle pay bands while inflation hovers at just under 12 per cent, as a `massive national pay cut for NHS professionals such as scientists, health visitors and speech and language therapists. 

Unite will now consult with its 100,000 health members across the NHS in both England and Wales on whether they accept this imposed deal or want to challenge it through industrial action, which could mean strikes this winter.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “This offer is nothing other than a massive national pay cut for NHS staff. After everything they have been through with the Covid pandemic and the service this workforce gives this country day in, day out, this is a kick in the teeth from the government and an insult to staff and patients alike.

“This ballot is a chance for our members to have their say, and whatever they decide, they will have the full backing of their union, Unite.”

With no extra money from the government to fund even this paltry pay deal, Unite is angry that workers’ pay is being pitted against patient care in a health service that is already at breaking point.

In England, the ballot closes on Sunday 11 September.

Unite’s national officer for the NHS, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, said: “For the government to demand that even this insulting pay offer is funded through existing NHS money is an appalling, irresponsible move. The health service is already at breaking point and needs urgent investment to stave off collapse but we also need to reward staff properly. There are already 40,000 vacancies across the NHS. This dreadful pay offer will only make it far harder to recruit and retain staff.”

In Wales, the ballot closes on Friday 15 September.

Unite’s lead officer for the NHS in Wales, Richard Munn, said: “Our members working in the NHS in Wales are totally fed up. They’ve given everything to help care for people through this extremely testing time only to be told it is yet another cut to their pay. We understand the constraints on Welsh Government in terms of funding but more needs to be done to improve the pay of NHS workers. An improved pay offer is crucial to acknowledge what our members do, and to both recruit and retain staff.”