NHS staff in strike threat over pay

A nurse treating a patient
A nurse treating a patient

UNIONS have reacted with anger to the government’s decision not to award a cost of living increase to the majority of NHS staff amid talks of possible strike action in Wigan.

Ministers have announced a basic one per cent pay rise, but the 600,000 nurses and other staff receiving automatic “progression-in-job” increases, “typically worth over three per cent”, will not get the one per cent as well.

The North West director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) who works on behalf of staff at Wrightington Wigan Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, (WWL) Steve Flanagan said: “Nurses across the North West will be angry at today’s announcement. While our members work tirelessly day-in, day-out, under increasingly difficult conditions, the government is today rewarding them by ignoring the independent pay review body, and holding the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system to ransom. NHS staff in the region are being told to be grateful, while their contractually-agreed terms of employment are torn up.

“Less than half of nursing staff at the top of their pay increment will get a paltry 1% increase, after three years of pay restraint. The remainder will simply get what they are contractually entitled to, if they can demonstrate they have developed their skills in the previous year.”

These sentiments have been echoed by the GMB.

Martin Jackson, GMB NHS chair, said: “NHS workers are doing their incredible best, against a backdrop of NHS cuts and reorganisations.

“Many GMB members were counting on the paltry one per cent to help subsidise the increase in cost of pension contributions which are to come in next month. Cost of living has increased, we have had years of pay restraint and now we are not even going to receive the one per cent the Chancellor set out in the last budget - enough is enough.”