NHS workers should receive an early pay rise of 15 per cent or £3,000, whichever is greater, Unite said.
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, also demanded that pay discussions between the government, the NHS and health trade unions start without delay.
Unite is writing to the government to lodge its pay claim for the NHS workforce, saying that this claim would be an important step in the journey to restore the pay that NHS workers have ‘lost’ in the decade of austerity since 2010.
Unite said that the continuing seven-month battle against coronavirus had further heightened the public’s appreciation of NHS staff.
Unite’s national health committee voted for an early and significant pay rise of 15 per cent or £3,000, whichever is greater, to be brought forward to an earlier date from next April when the three-year pay deal comes to an end.
Unite’s claim follows on from the joint health trade unions demand in July for an early and generous pay rise, following the end of the current deal and builds on the public’s high esteem for the NHS and social care workers - symbolised by the weekly clap for carers during the pandemic.
Unite’s claim also sends a strong message to NHS contractors, outsourcers and wholly-owned subsidiaries who have taken workers out of the NHS - and those workers are very often employed on inferior pay, terms and conditions compared to their NHS counterparts.
These companies should put the interests of their workers before the dividends of shareholders.
Unite National Officer for Health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, said: “Unite’s national health committee has decided its claim for NHS staff – a 15 per cent pay rise or £3,000 - should be the first stage in the journey to rectify in real terms what NHS employees have ‘lost’ since the Tories came to power in 2010.
“Hundreds of health and social care staff have lost their lives in the continuing battle against COVID-19 which has heightened the deep appreciation that the public has for the NHS and those who work in it.
“This public esteem for NHS workers should be reflected by the government which needs to respond by opening pay discussions, following our claim and those of our sister unions, with no further procrastination or stalling tactics.
“Our members, living in the real world, can’t survive on warm words of praise by ministers and the past weeks of Thursday evening clapping, as the bills flood in.
“What is needed is an early, well deserved and generous pay rise to repair the damage of the last ‘lost’ decade when pay in real terms was eroded by an estimated 20 per cent for many long-serving staff.
“Doctors, nurses and health workers of all hues, including student nurses and those who came out of retirement, stepped up to the plate big-time when the lockdown was imposed in March and the NHS was under severe pressure – now is the time for the government to recognise this major national contribution.
“Many, including prime minister Boris Johnson, owe their lives to the NHS – and now is the time to acknowledge that 24/7 commitment with a decent pay rise that reflects the sentiments of a grateful and relieved country.”