UNISON Northern Ireland

All NHS staff need a pay rise that’s above inflation

NHS unions are today (Friday) breaking with tradition and submitting a pay claim directly to the government on behalf of more than one million health workers across the UK.

In a letter to the Chancellor, 14 health unions including UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Unite and the GMB, are asking Philip Hammond to earmark funds in the November Budget for a pay rise in line with inflation (Retail Price Index). The claim also calls for an additional £800 to restore some of the pay lost over the past seven years.

Cleaners, nurses, radiographers, pharmacists, midwives, medical secretaries, paramedics, therapists, dental technicians, as well as caterers, porters and everyone else who works in the NHS have suffered real terms pay cuts of around 15 per cent because of the government’s harsh pay policies, say unions.

NHS unions believe the government has undermined the role of the independent pay review body and severely restricted its ability to make recommendations. Health unions are therefore seizing the initiative today and going directly to the government.  

Health workers have gone without a proper pay rise for far too long. Their wages continue to fall behind inflation as food, fuel bills, housing and transport costs rise. NHS staff and their families need a pay award that stops the rot and starts to restore some of the earnings that have been missed out on.

A decent pay rise will make it easier for struggling hospital trusts to attract new recruits and hold onto experienced staff. Continuing with the pay cap will further damage services, and that affects us all. The government must give the NHS the cash it needs so its entire workforce gets a decent rise, without the need for more services to be cut.

There must be no selective lifting of the cap as with police and prison officers a few days ago. All public servants, no matter where in the United Kingdom they live or what job they do, deserve a proper pay rise.

Health Trade Unions representing all categories of staff in Northern Ireland are now preparing to pursue this claim.

We will insist that the block grant should include additional funding to meet this claim.

NHS staff here are already suffering a pay deficit of 3% and have not yet been given the uplift recommended by the Pay Review Body due from April 2017. We continue to demand that our members pay is brought in line and that the gap is closed.