The government have continued their attacks on the NHS by announcing a zero cost-of-living pay rise for the majority of health workers and a meagre 1% only for those on the top of their pay band.
Even this 1% only applies to basic pay, not unsocial hours or overtime payments. Health workers have endured many years of zero or less than inflation pay rises, leaving all ordinary health workers struggling and poverty pay a reality for many.
The argument that reducing pay means more money for services won’t be taken seriously. This comes from a government who have cut and undermined the NHS, increasing workload and reducing patient care, in a drive to privatise health care for the benefit of the rich.
Their other argument that those not receiving cost of living pay are getting incremental pay rises so will get an uplift is equally insulting. Increments are annual increases, linked to performance, which build up to the full pay for the job at the top of the band. The government are stating the pay offer next year will mirror this year’s unless the incremental pay system is renegotiated. The government is fully aware of how potentially divisive this might be amongst health workers.
Unite have already announced they will ballot. Unison have issued a weak statement, saying this shows the government needs to go and government should conform to the PRB recommendation. The issue will no doubt be at the fore at Unison’s forthcoming Health conference (14-16 April).
Activists must submit and support emergency motions calling for a programme of action that aims to win, rather than allowing the leadership to grandstand with tokenistic action.