Health

Unison calls off strike by NHS staff

Picket line outside the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke Image copyright Andrew Matthews
Image caption Picket line outside the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke

Unison has suspended a planned strike for its NHS members in England which was scheduled for 29 January.

It follows several meetings with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to resolve disputes over pay.

The union said it will consult its members over a proposal put forward by the Department of Health.

The Royal College of Midwives, Unite and GMB have also confirmed they will suspend strike action planned for this coming Thursday.

Mr Hunt said the suspension was good news for patients.

Several NHS walkouts were staged across the country last year after the government's decision not to implement a recommended 1% pay rise.

Unison says it has not ruled out further strike action.

The offer

In addition to a 12-hour walkout on Thursday 29 January, Unison was also planning a four-week work to rule, followed by a 24-hour strike on Wednesday 25 February.

Seven unions representing NHS workers, from porters and cleaners to ambulance staff and nurses, had planned strikes.

These unions represent hundreds of thousands of NHS staff in England and Northern Ireland.

The conciliatory offer made by the government is understood to include:

  • A 1% pay rise for staff up to band 8B which takes in senior nurses
  • Lower paid staff will also get an extra £200 a year in their salary
  • And the bottom level of pay will be increased to £15,100 a year
  • There is also a commitment from the government that the NHS Pay Review Body will continue to make future recommendations on pay uplift for NHS staff in 2016/17

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "I am pleased the Government came to the negotiating table to seek a solution. I believe this offer represents the best that can be achieved by negotiations and we will consult with members in England.

"We hope that now we have agreements in Scotland and Wales and an offer in England, we can achieve the same in Northern Ireland. "

Image copyright Royal College Midwives
Image caption NHS workers in England were involved in a four-hour walkout in November last year over the pay dispute

Unison's head of health Christina McAnea said: "The two strike days staged by health workers last year have moved the government to negotiate with the unions.

"This isn't a great offer but it addresses some of the key concerns unions have about low pay in the NHS. In the interest of patients' safety unions will now consult members.

"It will be up to members to decide whether to accept or reject the proposals.

"If they choose to reject them we will move to further industrial action."

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said that if the unions accepted offer, it would demonstrate a commitment and signal the start of a period of negotiations to deliver long term pay reform in the NHS.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "I welcome the unions calling off strike action. We have consistently said that we wouldn't agree a pay deal that risked frontline jobs and therefore patient safety.

"This offer achieves that - the NHS paybill will not increase next year, while we reward hardworking staff."

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