UNISON members say yes to NHS pay offer

UNISON members working in the NHS have voted to accept a multi-year pay offer worth more than 8%.

An individual postal ballot of 452,000 members working in the NHS saw 64.91% of those taking part vote to accept the three-year offer worth 8.1% – and more to some members.

A full range of health workers, including nurses, paramedics, occupational therapists, porters, midwives, health care assistants, technical, admin, cleaning, security and catering staff backed the deal, which will establish a new NHS minimum wage of £6.77 in the second year.

This result means that UNISON and the RCN, the two largest NHS unions, representing the overwhelming majority of NHS staff, have now endorsed the multi-year agreement.

“UNISON gave all our health members the opportunity to make their vote count and the ballot result shows what a tough decision it has been,” commented UNISON head of health Karen Jennings.

“The 2.75% on offer this year is the best in the public sector and the three-year deal offers stability. However, the rising costs of everyday items such as food, fuel and energy obviously make members wary about being locked into a three-year deal.

“That is why we negotiated a reopener clause that we will not hesitate to trigger if inflation continues to rise.

“We know that a number of small health unions have voted against accepting the offer and we will be making it a priority to meet with them and discuss a way forward.”

The offer gives:

2.75% in the first year;
a headline increase of 2.54% in the second year, while also introducing a new minimum wage of £6.77 an hour for all NHS staff, 18% higher than the statutory minimum wage and meaning that those on the lowest pay point will receive an increase of 5.7%;
in the third year the proposed deal gives 2.5%. It includes a flat rate increase of £420 (worth 3.17% at the lowest point) for the bottom three grades;
nurses, midwives and paramedics on the main grade 5 and the bottom of grade 6 will receive extra money on top of the basic increase from the second year, to recognise that more than a quarter have reached their pay ceiling/
The two-thirds Yes vote in the ballot represents a solid vote for acceptance in the most representative test of opinion across the NHS workforce, as a result of a full postal ballot of the union with the largest membership across all grades and professions.

UNISON negotiators also point out that the package represents the best deal in the public sector, 8.1% over the years and up to 10.5% for entry-grade professionals with a new minimum hourly wage of £6.77.

But the union also recognises that a third of members in the ballot voting against the package reflects the anxiety felt about increasing food and fuel prices.

The union warned the government that UNISON members will not tolerate a below-inflation increase next year, and if inflation continues to go up rather than down, UNISON will trigger the reopener clause for year two.

Members can expect to see the money from this pay rise in their pay packets in July.

Health Pay Matters, including details of the pay package