The majority of health workers are unhappy with the government’s proposed 3% pay rise, according to a poll by Unison.
The union has published results of a consultation exercise it ran over the summer, revealing that just one in five (20%) members including nurses, hospital workers and ambulance staff thought the increase was acceptable.
The Department for Health and Social Care announced a revised deal in July, an improvement on the 1% that had been recommended earlier in the year, but behind the RPI rate of inflation, which was 3.9% at the time.
Unison will debate how it will challenge the government’s latest offer at its annual conference, which opens today. Earlier this month, nine out of 10 members of the Royal College of Nursing union also balloted to say they were not happy with the rise.
Unison claims that thousands of NHS staff are “exhausted” and on the brink of leaving their jobs. This has been stoked by a tight labour market in other areas, such as retail and logistics, which are inflating wages in a bid to attract more workers.
The union said the 3% increase would only deliver a £2,000 uplift per year for those earning more than £70,000, and has asked the government to guarantee all workers at least £2,000. Those on the lowest wages would receive less than £600, it said.
“Unison gave the pay review body and the government compelling evidence that a minimum £2,000 rise would be enough to persuade people to stay. But both chose to disregard this,” said Sara Gorton, Unison’s head of health.
Unison plans to launch a ballot on how many of its health members might be prepared to take strike action if the government’s decision is not overturned.
Research carried out earlier this year by the RCN found that NHS staff were being priced out of housing, with the average cost of a house now worth more than seven years of a nurse’s total average pay.