The “revised” pay offer made by the government to health workers last week is a disgrace. For those on lowest pay, it will mean an additional 90p a week at best. For those on higher bands it will mean an extra 50p and 70p a week.
Nobody in England will get the 2.5 percent rise recommended by the NHS pay review body – which the government has reduced to 1.9 percent by insisting on delivering the increase in two stages.
The government stole £220 million from health workers when it made the decision to stage the award. It has now returned less than a quarter of that amount.
That’s why health secretary Alan Johnson says the new offer “preserves the tough line on public sector pay which we have had to take this year”. He means that it is within the 2 percent limit set by Gordon Brown – and well below the rate of inflation.
The leaders of the Unison union are putting the government’s new offer out to ballot without a recommendation as to whether to accept or reject it.
This flies in the face of the policy passed at Unison’s health conference earlier this year, which voted for a strategy of industrial action if employers did not offer a substantial above inflation pay rise.
Ballot papers will now go out starting on 20 August. The ballot will close on 13 September. We need the biggest possible campaign for rejection. Every union branch should hold a meeting, discuss the new offer, and vote to reject it.
There is immense public support for a defence of the NHS and those who work in it. It’s a simple argument that you can’t have first class public services with the workforce on third class pay and conditions.