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Health unions set to ballot members on strike action over ‘insulting’ pay offer

NHS staff could go on strike over the ‘insulting’ pay offer, after the two largest unions announced plans for member balloting.

Unison, which represents 450,000 workers in the health sector, has voted in favour of a ballot of members for a potential ‘day of protest’ on 5 June, while Unite said it would consult its members whether to ballot on strike action or, failing that, industrial action.

The unions said the move comes in response to below inflation pay uplifts across the NHS, which Unite’s head of health Rachael Maskell said were ‘insulting’ to staff.

She said: ‘Unite will be consulting its membership on whether they wish to proceed to an industrial action ballot, including strike action, over the insulting pay offer.

‘Unite will be liaising with other health unions and professional associations in driving home the message that health service staff have had their fill of being treated with contempt by health secretary Jeremy Hunt. Enough is enough.’

The announcement came after Unison voted in favour of a motion to ballot members at a conference in Brighton earlier today.

Unison’s head of healthcare, Christina McAnea said: ‘We are the largest health union and we take the responsibility that comes with that very seriously.  Members neither strike often nor easily, but this time it feels that we have no choice.

‘We’re not asking members to strike for 1% – we’re saying strike for a pay award that starts to restore the value of your pay, fight for a living wage for all, and because a demoralised and de-motivated workforce is not good for patients.’

The news comes after the GPC said it was ‘powerless’ to overturn the Government’s decision to award GPs just a 0.28% contractual uplift for this year.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse: ‘I think it’s quite understandable why they’re angry, and GPs and doctors in general are angry as well.

‘I think the Government needs to realise that the more they treat healthcare workers in such a poor way, morale drops. That not only threatens care but means fewer people consider working in healthcare sectors in future.’

When asked about the prospect of GPs joining industrial action, Dr Vautrey said: ‘That would be a decision for the BMA council, not for the GPC. They are the body considering these things – there are all sorts of legal issues as part of that – and I am sure that is what they’ll do.’

The BMA press office declined to comment.