Strike Solidarity

Pay UNISON News

NHS staff are striking for the future of the NHS and its patients as much as they are for themselves – decent pay is essential to prevent more staff leaving the NHS and further damage to patient care.

UNISON members have announced industrial action across 5 ambulances services in England on Wednesday 11 January and Monday 23 January.

UNISON members in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will be taking strike action on Tuesday 17 January and action short of strike on 18, 19, 20 & 23 January.

Members of other NHS trade unions also have industrial action planned during January. Details of solidarity actions can be found below.

This page has guidance on:

  1. How to send solidarity to UNISON NHS picket lines

  2. How to send solidarity to colleagues taking industrial action in other unions

  3. Guidance on common questions from members about their work during industrial action

Messages of support

You can send messages of support to UNISON members on strike, either individually or on behalf of your branch.

Solidarity with UNISON industrial action in the NHS

Our industrial action in England continues on Wednesday 11 January and Monday 23 January with members in the ambulance sector in:

  • London

  • Yorkshire

  • North West

  • North East

  • South West

UNISON members in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will be taking strike action on Tuesday 17 January and action short of strike on 18, 19, 20 & 23 January.

As well as this, there will also be further strikes on dates shortly to be announced in:

  • Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital

  • Liverpool University Hospitals

You can also make sure the views of NHS staff are known in radio phone ins, local papers and social media – making sure that the public know NHS staff back the strikes.

You should be aware that there are legal provisions and a statutory code of practice around who can picket and how pickets are run. Members may only lawfully picket at or near their own place of work and the union can be sued if we engage in unlawful picketing.  In the case of ambulance strikes, branches will be managing the need to safely dispatch ambulances from picket lines under agreed ‘life-and-limb’ exemptions. To ensure legal requirements and patient safety can be maintained regions will work with striking branches to manage invitations and arrangements for visitors to their pickets.

 However – solidarity messages are very welcome, so please send them in.

 Strike pay and donations to support strikers

UNISON’s Industrial Action Committee has authorised the payment of strike pay for the January action. A central fund will soon be established for donations to support striking workers, with details to be circulated soon.

 Writing to your MP

You can write to their MP to get them to take action for an NHS pay rise here:

UNISON members without a mandate for strike action are encouraged to support their colleagues on strike. However, it is important that UNISON members report for work as normal.

 Branches can:

  • Join colleagues from other unions at break/lunch times

  • Show your support on social media using our graphics

  • Wear and distribute stickers

  • Offer to provide refreshments to pickets

  • Ensure members do not take on variation to their contracted duties and/or undertake the timetabled or other responsibilities of those engaged in action.

  • Encourage members in the wider branch to not take on private agency/branch shifts on industrial action days

Solidarity with industrial action by other unions in the NHS

Employer behaviour

UNISON branches will be advising employers/managers in advance that UNISON members of staff will not accept any variation to their contracted duties and/or undertake the timetabled or other responsibilities of any staff engaged in action. Any requested work should be within the scope of practice and professional competence of each member of staff.

Keeping our members safe

It is important to provide solidarity with other unions while protecting yourself at work. You can assure those picketing that you will not undertake work that those on strike would normally have carried out – and you can wear our sticker to demonstrate this.

UNISON balloted our members separately to other unions and so UNISON members should not take part in any industrial action organised by the other unions. If you do make an individual decision to refuse to work or cross picket lines when your colleagues from other unions are taking action you may find yourself at risk of dismissal. However, UNISON members are free to support legal protests and rallies that take place outside their contracted hours of work.

 Member should continue with their normal duties and responsibilities. UNISON members should not take on any additional responsibilities being given to them directly as a result of the industrial action unless it is in your contract to do so. UNISON members should only be providing cover where they are contracted to do so, it is timetabled or part of their normal duties. Staff should not be moved from the duties they would normally have carried out in order to cover work usually taken by colleagues on industrial action.

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