Saturday, March 25, 2023

NHS Pay offer - UNISON 2023 ballot : Gordon McKay

An intelligent and convincing guest post by UNISON Health NEC member (and real life NHS nurse) Gordon McKay on the latest NHS pay offer to settle the strikes. I am so proud of my UNISON NHS comrades such as Gordon and LAS Eddie Brand, who have not only delivered a significant victory for NHS workers but also a road map for other public service workers to win similar claims. I declare an interest in this road map in my current UNISON pay dispute with my employer.

"After a sustained campaign of industrial action by a number of our health branches UNISON have forced the UK Tory Government to make a significantly higher pay offer to English NHS workers after saying the previous offer was final and would not be increased.

Last Autumn the Tories gave NHS workers a £1,400 pay increase even although inflation, particularly on food, energy and housing was running significantly higher.

UNISON’s response was to ballot all our NHS members in England but disappointingly even with all of the hard work put in by branches and members, due to the savage balloting restrictions placed on trade unions by this Tory Government only eight UNISON branches got over the 50% turnout threshold to make strike action legal.

The response from supporters of Time for Real Change in our union was to simply ballot everyone again, not withstanding the cost, the limits on branch activists and staff and the previous results. I argued instead we should target re-ballots on several branches to allow us to concentrate our resources in the branches that had gotten nearest to the threshold figure. The Health Group Executive agreed and we re-balloted ten health branches and in a great show of success we got nine of these ten branches to not only vote for industrial action but to do so in large enough numbers to get us over the legal thresholds to allow us to take action.

Six days of strike action by our members took place between December 21 2022 and February 10 2023. That industrial action and hard negotiating have now resulted in the Tories increasing their offer. As well as the original £1,400 an additional lump sum beginning at £1,655 for the lowest paid and rising through the bands has been offered. On top of that a pay rise of 5% for 2023/24 has ben offered even although the Tories had originally told the Pay Review Body only 3.5% would be on the table. Additionally, a pay increase of 10.4% has been won for the lowest paid.

What I wont pretend to people is that we have won everything our members deserve but due to the courage of members who took action and strong negotiating this right wing Tory Government have been forced to make significant concessions they vowed they wouldn’t do.

It is now up to our members to decide as it should be. Members will receive their electronic ballot papers via an email link and voting will run from March 28 to April 14. I will listen to and support our members in whatever decision they take. Our members are there when we need them in their daily jobs. I promise I will be there when they need our union to support them".

Gordon McKay

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