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NHS workers reluctantly accept 1% pay rise
A Buckinghamshire Unison member
Unison health members in NHS England have returned a two-to-one acceptance of a 1% pay rise for 2015-16 on a low ballot turnout. While some smaller health unions have rejected this offer, as Unison and RCN have accepted it is now likely to be implemented.
As Unison's press release states, this offer does not meet the original demands to regain what health members have lost over the past few years.
Some low paid members will benefit from the result of our collective industrial action. However, for others it will mean either no pay rise or a cut in take home pay after tax and pension payments are taken into account.
It therefore represents another divisive pay settlement that will do nothing to resolve the staff shortages that we are now seeing within the health service and will not help staff morale.
We were told the government refused to speak to us after the first two four-hour strikes. It only came to the table in desperation after the 12-hour action - which was due to take place on 29 January - was announced.
We know in an election year the health service is high on the political agenda and therefore unions held a strong bargaining position, which has now been lost on the basis that 'this was the best we could get from negotiations'.
Let's be clear: these small gains were not the result of negotiations but from the collective action we took and that this argument is used to derail members from taking further action.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Unison leadership, like the Labour Party, in reality accepts the argument that there is no more money for services such as the health service.
It is likely that the pay review body will find that our payments for unsocial hours need to be made more 'flexible' - ie cut. While this would still have to go to the union staff council for negotiations, the incoming government will use such a proposal to launch a further attack on our terms and conditions to help slash £20 billion pounds in NHS 'efficiency savings' which all the main parties have signed up to.
Unison members will be forced once again to look to industrial action to defend the NHS and our terms and conditions. We need to build a left fighting leadership within Unison that involves its members and states clearly that there is an alternative.
In The Socialist 11 March 2015:
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