1,000,000 health workers call on Chancellor to increase pay
NHS unions have broken with tradition by submitting a pay claim directly to central government on behalf of more than one million health workers across the UK.
In a letter to the Chancellor, 14 health unions have asked Philip Hammond to earmark funds in the November Budget for a pay rise in line with inflation.
The claim also calls for an additional £800 to restore some of the pay lost over the past seven years.
It follows a warning earlier this week that nurses across the UK could strike unless the public-sector pay cap of 1% is lifted.
The Royal College of Nursing says staff have suffered a 14% pay cut in real terms since 2010 because of the pay ceiling.
Thousands demonstrated at Parliament Square last week to call on the government to “scrap the cap” for all public-sector workers.
But the Resolution Foundation stated in July that ending the publicsector pay cap in 2018-19 would cost £9.7bn a year by 2021-22.
UK ministers are expected to announce that police and prison officers will get a pay rise of more than 1%.
Unions representing Wales’ doctors and nurses say the cap must go for their members and other publicsector workers could follow suit.
Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: “Health workers have gone without a proper pay rise for far too long. Their wages continue to fall behind inflation as food and 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 on to 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 country they live or what job they do, deserve a proper pay rise.”
NHS unions believe the government has undermined the role of the independent pay review body and severely restricted its ability to make recommendations.
Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies said: “Nursing staff must be given a pay rise that matches inflation, with an additional consolidated lump sum that begins to make up for the years of lost pay.
“When the next pay review body process begins, the government must allow it to be truly independent and able to recommend a meaningful increase that helps hard-working staff with the cost of living.
“It must be fully funded and not force the NHS to cut services or jobs to pay for it. When ministers hold pay down, it drives too many nurses out of the NHS. The RCN will submit further evidence on motivation, morale, recruitment and retention issues for nursing staff.”
Royal College of Midwives director for employment relations and communications Jon Skewes said: “This claim represents fair compensation for the rise of cost in living and goes some way to make up for midwives’ pay losing over £6,000 in value since 2010. Without an increase to pay, there will be no incentive for midwives to stay in midwifery, or for students to consider joining a profession that’s so undervalued by the government and badly overstretched in terms of staffing.
“Last year 80% of midwives who were considering leaving the NHS said they would stay if their pay increased. It’s essential the government puts the funding in place to pay staff this fair increase so that the NHS can recruit and retain hard-working midwives and other NHS staff.”
Prime Minister Theresa May said in the Commons that she valued the work of all those who work in the public sector, but added: “We will continue to balance the need to protect jobs, the need to protect publicsector workers and the need to ensure we are also being fair to those who are paying for it.”
> Nurses and supporters in Parliament Square earlier this month during a protest against the government pay cap