‘Utter contempt’: Unison boss slams Government as Manchester NHS staff get set for nationwide walkout

The head of Unison has called on Jeremy Hunt to return to the negotiating table after setting a date for a NHS workers’ strike.

NHS workers will stage a four-hour strike on Monday October 13 in a row over pay.

Doctors, nurses and other staff will stage a walkout between 7am and 11am in the first health service strike for 32 years.

This will be followed by four days of other action between Tuesday 14 and Friday October 17 when members will take their breaks instead of working through them.

Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “NHS members don’t take action often or lightly. For many of our members this will be the first time they walk out as the last action over pay was 32 years ago.

“The NHS runs on the goodwill of its workers, but this Government has shown utter contempt for them.”

A strong 68% voted yes for industrial action and 88% to action short of a strike in a ballot which closed on September 18.

But the Unison boss has called on Health Secretary Hunt to re-negotiate deals and avert the action.

“We are working with NHS employers to minimise the impact on patients,” said Mr Prentis.

“But it’s not too late for Jeremy Hunt to act to avoid this and we repeat our offer to the government to negotiate with us despite him refusing to meet with health unions about pay.”

Earlier this year, the Government decided to ignore the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendations and instead give a 1% non-consolidated increase only to staff at the top of their incremental scale.

Because the award is non-consolidated it will not count towards pension entitlements or shift pay and will be wiped away at the end of March 2016, meaning wages will go back to their April 2013 level.

Unison claim that Mr Hunt is ‘persisting in the pretence that he is giving staff a pay rise when in truth he has imposed a continued pay freeze for most NHS staff in England, with a small flat rate sum for around 40% of staff’.

There are ten unions balloting in the NHS over pay and the trade union will be co-ordinating action with them. 

Further discussions are taking place about the non-strike action that will take place in the ten ambulance trusts in England and this will be announced at a later date.

UNISON is the UK’s largest health union with 300,000 NHS members in England.

Image courtesy of BBC News via YouTube with thanks

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