Health union to debate pay action

Herald Series: NHS staff are angry at the decision not to award a 1% across the board pay rise NHS staff are angry at the decision not to award a 1% across the board pay rise

The threat of industrial action by health workers in a bitter dispute with the Government over pay is set to come a step closer today.

Unison's annual health conference will debate calls for a campaign of industrial action in protest at the coalition's decision not to award an across the board 1% wage rise to NHS staff, as recommended by a pay review body.

An emergency motion will be put to the conference in Brighton which reveals "high levels of anger" among health workers at the Government's decision only to award the 1% to workers not receiving incremental increases.

The union's health executive said the award was "divisive" and would not meet increases in the cost of living following years of below-inflation increases.

"Members are clear that they want to see Unison doing something in response to what is considered an unfair and deliberately provocative settlement," the motion says.

Unison's leaders will seek support to reject the pay deal, protest against the "despicable" treatment of health staff and take action up to and including strikes.

Delegates will be asked to agree a ballot of Unison's 450,000 NHS members, threatening a huge clash with the Government in the coming months.

The conference will also be asked to submit a claim for employers to pay a top-up sum to staff whose pay falls short of the Living Wage.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis has warned of possible co-ordinated strikes by workers in the NHS and in local government, where there is a separate dispute over a 1% pay offer.

Mr Prentis said any campaign in the NHS could include demonstrations and non co-operation as well as industrial action.

"We want to keep our options open about what kind of action to take. It could be a long campaign."

The Unison leader described the NHS pay offer as "derisory", subjecting workers to continued below-inflation pay rises despite the upturn in the economy.

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