UNISON Northern Ireland


On behalf of our members across the NHS in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, UNISON has now submitted a pay claim to the UK Government at Westminster calling for all workers on Agenda for Change to receive an increase of at least £2,000 before the end of the year. This is the equivalent of around £1 an hour for all staff. When we surveyed our members, over four fifths (84%) said that a £2,000 pay lift would make a ‘substantial difference’ to them.

The submission of the UNISON claim follows on from calls made by 14 health trade unions for an early and significant pay increase.

UNISON members have delivered a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to put NHS pay at the top of his to-do list and bring forward plans for a meaningful and early rise. The letter references Boris Johnson’s own battle with Covid-19 – and his recovery thanks to the care he received from the NHS.

It says: “Health staff have heard how much your recent personal experiences taught you about the value of what they do.

“They are now looking for you to reflect that in their pay. So, Prime Minister, why wait?”

Whilst Boris Johnson and his Government were quick to join in with clapping for health and social care workers, they now need to respond quickly to your demand that the sacrifices you have made during Covid-19 be reflected in your pay.

In Northern Ireland, UNISON has written to the Health Minister, Robin Swann MLA, calling on him to support an early and significant pay rise. We are demanding that the UK Government make resources available to fund the pay award for all health and social care workers in Northern Ireland.

The One Team 2k campaign is calling for a pay rise for all health and social care workers as One Team. £2,000 for everyone is fair, reasonable, simple and could be implemented quickly. We will be demanding that all Northern Ireland MPs and MLAs support the campaign for an early and meaningful pay rise as the least they can do to recognise the dedication shown by all health and social care workers during Covid-19. An early pay rise is the morale boost workers need with the pandemic continuing and winter ahead.

For our One Team 2k campaign to be successful we will need public support and political pressure. But most importantly of all, we need all our UNISON members and activists to get involved and demand the pay rise they deserve.


Watch out for details of our TWO DAYS FOR 2K activities later this month and continue to follow our social media channels for updates.


ONE TEAM 2K - Day of Action

Health and Social care workers held a #OneTeam2k demonstration at Stormont on Thursday 30th September calling on politicians to support their campaign for a £2,000 pay rise for health and social care workers.

Now more than ever, workers need our devolved government to show they are really valued. Politicians from all parties need to come together to secure full funding for a decent pay rise for our health and social care workers.

Support the campaign - Email your MLA: https://bit.ly/3kU0jNp

View the photo gallery here.


On Friday 28 August we delivered our NHS pay claim to 10 Downing Street. Your voices, your claim, straight to the heart of government.

We want a rise of at least £2,000 on every pay point – and to get that paid early.  

Of course, 2020 is a year like no other and we had to do things differently. Social distancing. Hand sanitiser. “Handing over” electronic documents instead of paper.

When you’re the biggest union in the NHS you have to lead by example. Keeping our activists safe is not only the right thing to do, it leaves no room for those who would leap at any opportunity to criticise us with the age-old nonsense that campaigning and organising is unprofessional or even dangerous.

Thing is, UNISON is no stranger to innovative campaigning. Across the UK our activists constantly engage members, the public and politicians with exciting campaigns and thought-provoking stunts.

So we’re ready to embrace the challenge of coordinating a national campaign in a challenging environment. And I know you are too.

Our claim – One Team 2k

UNISON is asking for a rise of at least £2,000 on every pay point – and working to get that money paid early. 

£2,000 for everyone is fair and reasonable for the whole NHS team. It is easy to explain to the government and the public alike and supporting it is the least they can do for NHS staff. It isn’t complicated, and it could be implemented quickly.

And our members agree. Over 8 out of 10 UNISON members in the NHS said they would support a campaign for a £2,000 pay rise for all NHS staff, saying that increase would make a meaningful difference to their spending power.

We also know UNISON members are in favour of a flat rate pay increase – an across the board increase for all NHS staff. When we asked them, 70 percent of our members favoured of a flat rate approach to pay increases, compared to only 29 per cent who preferred percentage increases.

A £2,000 increase to every pay point would mean:

  • A pay rise of over £1 per hour for all staff
  • A fair and equitable rise, reflecting the contribution of all staff through 2020
  • A minimum pay rate of £10.23 per hour – over the real Living Wage
  • A Band 5 starting salary of nearly £27,000
  • For Bands 1 – 6 a rise of at least double RPI inflation.

Our campaign

We’ve spread the word about our OneTeam2k pay claim through national and regional media and in our communications to members.  But to stand the best chance of achieving this we need to work together to take the claim wider – to make sure that people who use the NHS, those who run it and those who make decisions about it all know that we mean business.

To kick-start our campaign, we will be holding Two days for 2k, 48 hours of workplace-based pay activity during September.

The aim is to get as many health branches as possible campaigning at the same time to help deliver the early and meaningful pay rise that our members deserve and to bring the campaign to life in every workplace.

We know that coordinating campaign activity can be particularly effective – so make sure you speak with your UNISON region and health committee to share plans and ideas.

So, it’s over to you to organise at least one pay activity at some point in September.  Just make sure that what you do is designed around your members and organised in ways that encourage them to participate in more pay activities in the future.  Oh, and please make sure you share what you have done!

Background to our pay campaign

In May 2020 UNISON led the publication of “Blueprint for Return,” a joint trade union plan for running the NHS safely and effectively as lockdown began to ease. This included fast, comprehensive and accessible testing, and the ongoing, ample supply of protective kit. We also said we expected the government to make a clear statement of intent that the contribution of all NHS staff in dealing with this pandemic, whatever their jobs, in dealing with this pandemic would be reflected in future conversations about pay.

At this time our Health Service Group Executive began the process building the initial stages of a pay campaign.

Since we wrote to the UK Prime Minister asking for pay talks to be brought forward, the government has missed several opportunities to do this. It is clear that, while they were quick to join in with the clapping, the government will try to avoid responding when you ask for that recognition to be reflected in your pay.

We know that for any campaign to be successful we need a combination of:

  • Support from members
  • Support of the general public
  • Coordinated efforts across the trade union movement
  • Winning the political argument

Support from the general public

We know we need significant public support for a pay rise – and at the moment we have it.

A majority of the public (69%) think all NHS staff should get an early pay rise, according to a UNISON/Savanta ComRes poll. Two thirds (66%) of the public believe a wage increase for employees should be significant in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

An overwhelming majority of the public (85%) believe pay should increase. This includes nearly two in five (39%) who backed a medium increase, and more than a quarter (27%) who backed a large one. Only one in five (19%) thought NHS staff should only get a small rise.

We can’t take public support for granted. Since Covid hit the UK, over 220,000 jobs have been lost, and self employment is also down by 240,000 – that affects nearly half a million workers in total.

Spending money on NHS pay is worth it, but it is not cheap. Our initial estimate of the cost of our claim is about £2.8 billion pounds, plus additional spending in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. That is about a 5.4% increase on the most recent paybill figure for the NHS in England.

We need to make sure we maintain public support in our campaign, and make sure we emphasise the key messages from our Blueprint for Return – that fair pay and decent treatment of staff is essential to the running of safe and effective NHS services.


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