Now is our chance to challenge on NHS pay

It’s vital everyone plays in their part in the battle for a real pay rise for health workers, says Tim Roberts

NHS pay be counted

We’re now a week into our indicative ballot on NHS pay. This is health workers’ chance to stand up and be counted.

This is our chance to send a clear message that we’re not going to put up with another year of pay lagging behind inflation.

UNISON campaigned for a £2,000 pay rise for all staff because it is simple, easy to implement and would make a real difference to the lowest paid staff in the NHS.

You’d have to be a mid-level manager or very senior clinician – working at Band 8a – for 3% to be worth £2,000.

Contrast that with those entering the health service at the lowest pay grade who are on just £9.49 an hour. Not only is that not a living wage, from next April it won’t even be the legal minimum wage, after Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s last budget set that at £9.50 an hour.

This pay insult goes to show the government won’t give us anything it doesn’t have to. It’s why we’re doing everything we can to make our politicians see sense.

Our consultative ballot in the summer sent a clear message. Over 80% of those that voted were prepared to take action for a real pay rise. But not enough took part to get us over the anti-democratic thresholds forced on us by the 2016 Trade Union Act.

If we’re going to fight and win, every UNISON member in the NHS must do their part to convince their colleagues to take part.

We also need to learn from successful mobilisations elsewhere. That’s why we’re delighted to welcome UNISON Northern Ireland’s James Large, Conor McCarthy and Maura McKenna to the region to talk us through their successful 2019 NHS strikes next week.

This virtual meeting won’t just be of interest to NHS staff. Local government workers preparing their own ballot from next month should find inspiration in Northern Ireland’s fight, as should UNISON members across our public services waging their own pay battles.

So please join us at 6pm on Tuesday to learn the lessons from across the Irish Sea. When we stand together, we win!

Register now