NHS Unite members to work-to-rule in pay dispute

NHS staff are pressing ahead with plans to hold a day of action tomorrow in protest at the government’s “derisory” pay offer.

Unite the union said its NHS members would hold a ‘work-to-rule’ day on Wednesday 3 December to protest against the 7.99% three-year NHS pay deal offered by the government. The Pay Review Body, which independently negotiates pay rises, recommended a 2.75% pay award for 2008-9 alone.

Unite’s joint general secretary Derek Simpson said: “I am pressing for an urgent meeting with Gordon Brown, where I will raise the whole sorry saga of the government’s negative attitude to public sector pay, with particular reference to our NHS members.”

The NHS work-to-rule day will include a ban on non-essential paperwork, e-mail exchanges, attendance at meetings and telephone calls.

Members want to persuade the government to restart negotiations on the pay deal, which is below the current rate of inflation (4.5%) and promises two further years of below-inflation pay rises.

They are angry that the government has refused to honour the recommendations of the independent Pay Review Body – a similar situation to the 2008 police pay deal saga, where the recommended pay increase was overruled by home secretary Jacqui Smith.

A Department of Health spokesman said earlier this year: “The pay deal was negotiated with all the unions, including Unite. The majority of NHS staff voted to accept the multi-year agreement and the new rates for 2008-09 are already being paid.”

“The multi-year arrangements are a good deal that ensures security for NHS staff and allows them to plan for their future and the future of their families. It will help those on the lowest wages, increase the earning potential for hundreds of thousands of staff and allow quicker progression up the pay ladder,” he said.

Unite members voted by 76% to 23% to take part in industrial action short of a strike. There was a 53% vote in favour of strike action, with 45% against.

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