The government’s recently announced 1.9 percent pay increase for more than a million NHS workers is provoking widespread anger, particularly among those on the lowest grades.
The Unison union has organised a consultation with branches.
It is asking them to assess the feeling of its members in the health service and to judge whether they would be prepared to take industrial action.
Many branch secretaries report that there is a mood for a fight.
Paul Harper is the branch secretary of NHS Logistics in Maidstone, Kent.
He told Socialist Worker that the 200 members he represents are particularly angry as they did badly under Agenda for Change, the shake-up of NHS pay structures in 2005.
Paul said, “In our consultation 99 percent of members rejected the pay review body’s recommendation of a 2.5 percent pay increase.
“Everyone rejected the government’s 1.9 percent offer and 98.5 percent said they were prepared to take action including strike action.”
“I think that this could lead to the first national strike in the NHS for many years,” he added.
Mark Ladbrooke from Oxfordshire health Unison agrees. He told Socialist Worker, “My branch and the Southampton branch, which are the two biggest health branches in the south eastern region of Unison, are holding consultative ballots.
“Both branches are reporting lots of people prepared to take action.
“If we want decent pay in the NHS, it is vital that other branches around the country do the same.”
Every branch should send back the consultation with a recommendation for strikes.
And union leaders should name the day for the national demonstration over the NHS which has been called for by Unison’s health executive.