"No more sacrifice in NHS": UNISON ballot for industrial action against new cost-cutting exercise

UNISON PRESS RELEASE – Hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers, including nurses, paramedics, porters, cleaners, cooks, therapists and health care assistants will be balloted for industrial action if a move towards a seven-day NHS means cutting unsocial hours payments. Delegates at UNISON’s annual health care conference in Liverpool today (Tuesday) gave an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote to an industrial action ballot if any government tried to remove unsocial hours payments. Speakers spoke passionately about the impact of austerity on their finances and lives, and how reliant on unsocial hours payments they had become to make ends meet. Worryingly, the Tories have today backed their pledge to extend more NHS services across seven days. Yet once again, there are no plans for funding this. It is clear they expect staff to fund this through taking cuts in their pay.

UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said: “Any move to a seven-day NHS must not cost staff a penny. Our members made their views clear today. Come after our unsocial hours payments and we will ballot for industrial action. “As the biggest healthcare union, we are always willing to work with employers to improve and extend NHS services if this is based on patients’ needs and is not just another cost-cutting exercise.

“Once again the Tories want working people to pay the price of their austerity agenda. “Staff already sacrifice their nights and weekends to care for patients and it’s only right that they are fairly rewarded.

“After five years of pay freezes, workers have come to rely on these payments to survive. “Our members took their first action in 34 years last year over pay. If the Tories get elected in May and come after NHS workers’ pay again. we could be in dispute for the second time in a year. “This industrial unrest, fear and anger among NHS workers is the real Tory legacy.” One mental health worker speaking at the conference said: “If band 2 staff lost unsocial hours payments for working weekends and nights they will bring home just £850 a month.”  A midwife said: “We deserve to be cared for. Unsocial hours payments are neither a bonus nor a perk of the job. We cannot afford not to fight for this.” A healthcare assistant said: “Without those hours I would lose up to £300 a month.”


Following negotiations between UNISON and the university, a new deal has been agreed to cover staff at the lower end of the pay spine. The aim of the local deal is to boost the pay of the lowest paid staff.

More than 400 people will receive a pay rise, the majority part-time female staff. The increase, effective from 1 August 2015, will see the minimum pay rate rise to £14,542 pa. This will mean no member of staff will be paid below £7.53 per hour. This deal is separate from the national pay award currently being negotiated between UCEA and the higher education unions. So these low-paid members will see another increase when the national pay award is settled, due to take effect on 1 August 2015. A joint statement issued by the university and unions states:

“Our people are central to our ambitions of raising the bar as a World Class Civic University – so recruitment and retention of the best people and recognition of the role we all play is essential.  We believe that enhancing the employment package in this way will help the University to achieve its ambitions.”   Bob Marchant, UNISON area organiser, said: ”UNISON welcomes the move by the university to increase the pay of its employees. Unfortunately, by the university not taking the opportunity to reach agreement on pay progression through the discretionary points on the scale, many staff will still be earning significantly below the current Living Wage.
Our campaign for a Living Wage is affordable. Between 2013 and 2014, the university had a ‘surplus’ after tax of £30.3 million, a rise of 65.6% on the previous year.”
He added: “UNISON is acutely aware of the existing pay disparities at the university, with 112 staff paid in excess of £100,000 a year. UNISON will continue to campaign for the full introduction of the Living Wage at the university and for improved pay progression.”

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