Socialist Worker

Health workers reject ‘shoddy’ below-inflation deal

by Gill George
Issue No. 2107

Unite’s 100,000 members in health have balloted overwhelmingly to reject three years of pay cuts.

A resounding 95 percent thought the offer wasn’t good enough. An impressive 75 percent voted to progress to a formal industrial action ballot.

One health visitor, hearing the 95 percent vote to reject, found it difficult to believe. Her question was, “Who on earth are the other 5 percent?”

The pay deal is a shoddy one – 2.75 percent this year, followed by 2.4 percent in 2009-10 and 2.25 percent in 2010-11.

Bizarrely this rotten package was negotiated by the Unison and Royal College of Nursing unions, which broke ranks with other NHS unions.

Even worse, it now looks as though Unison full time officials went to the government to ask for the deal to be imposed!

It’s a sorry state of affairs when union full time officers – of any union – go out of their way to force through pay cuts.

Many Unison members are disgusted by the behaviour of their own senior officials. Pay cuts are not in the interests of any health workers, whatever union we belong to.

Inflation currently stands at 4.3 percent. The Bank of England predicts that it will go far higher than this.

Why on earth should public sector workers pay for the government’s economic crisis?

Unite members were right to reject the deal.

The job of activists in Unite now is to ensure that the mandate for industrial action is respected.

Begging for scraps from a New Labour government isn’t going to deliver fair pay for health workers.

Gordon Brown forced through pay cuts last year. We were wrong to let him get away with it.

This year it’s time to make a stand.

Unite has called a day of action on pay on Friday 18 July.

This can show the anger that health workers now feel for a government that has contempt for us and for the services we provide.

Gill George is a member of the Unite national executive and a health activist. She writes in a personal capacity.

For more information about Unite’s day of action go to » www.unitetheunion.org.uk


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