UNISON to suspend strike to enter NHS pay talks with government


The government has finally promised extra investment in pay for both this and next year.

The strike planned for next Wednesday involving thousands of ambulance staff and other NHS workers has been suspended to allow UNISON to enter pay talks with the government, the union said today (Friday 3 March).

Following a meeting of its health committee this afternoon, UNISON announced it was suspending the action scheduled for 8 March.

The decision was taken after the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed there would be additional investment in pay for both this year (2022/23) and next (2023/24).

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “Unions said all along they could pause strikes if ministers would only commit to formal talks to boost pay for this year.

“The government has finally promised extra investment in pay for both this and next year.

“The sad thing is this could all have been handled so differently. Proper pay talks should have started months ago, long before the first strike was called. That would have avoided days of disruption for the NHS and its patients.

“Whether the talks signal the beginning of the end of the current dispute will emerge in the coming days. If a deal can be reached, strikes can end and everyone can work together again to ensure the NHS gets back on track.

“However, when we get in the room, we’ll quickly learn whether the talks can be meaningful. If not, UNISON will be forced to resume strike action. Nobody wants that.”

Both GMB and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have also suspended their action and will join the NHS staff council talks.

Notes to editors: 
– UNISON’s strike on Wednesday would have involved up to 32,000 NHS employees working for a multitude of organisations across England. Due to walk out were staff at NHS Blood and Transplant, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool Women’s Hospital, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and the Bridgewater Community Trust. They would have been joined by ambulance staff at all but one of the ambulance services in England.

– UNISON ambulance workers took strike action on 21 December, 11 and 23 January, and 10 February. Health workers at two Liverpool trusts (the University Hospitals Trust and the city’s Heart and Chest Hospital) walked out on 21 December and 23 January. Staff at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence also went on strike on 17 January.

– UNISON is the UK’s largest union and the largest union in the NHS and in the ambulance sector. It has more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

– The NHS staff council is made up of representatives from health unions, NHS employers, the Department of Health and Social Care, and NHS England.

Media contacts: 
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk

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