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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Health staff accept new pay offer
nurses
NHS staff were angered by the original offer
Health staff have grudgingly accepted an improved pay offer, easing some of the threat of public sector strikes.

Unison, which represents 450,000 NHS staff including some nurses, said its members accepted it by two to one.

The government angered health unions by deciding to stage a recommended 2.5% rise in England, reducing the value to 1.9% for nurses and other staff.

But ministers improved the deal in August. The Royal College of Nursing is due decide on the offer soon.

The improved offer included a 400 flat-rate rise for tens of thousands of the lowest paid NHS workers as well as money towards registration fees.

What is important is that we build on this, involving the workforce in the key decisions about the future
Alan Johnson, health secretary

Although negotiators are thought to have promised unions a better deal in the future.

Karen Jennings, head of health at Unison, said the below inflation offer had been accepted grudgingly.

"I believe that workers in the health service deserve better.

"The increase still represents a cut in living standards so we will try to catch up next year.

"I don't believe health workers will accept a below inflation pay increase for two years running."

Talks

The new deal is worth 3.4% for the lowest paid but 2.08% overall.

Talks will start soon on terms and conditions of NHS staff and Ms Jennings said Unison will press for a cut in the working week and better training.

The GMB, which has about 9,000 members in the NHS, has also announced acceptance of the deal.

The Royal College of Nursing will meet on Saturday to decide whether to accept the offer or move towards a ballot for industrial action among its members in England.

But the government is still facing the threat of strikes by civil servants and council workers, while postal staff will walk out again by the end of the month if their dispute over pay and jobs is not resolved.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: "I am pleased that NHS staff have voted to accept the revised pay offer.

"What is important is that we build on this, involving the workforce in the key decisions about the future of the NHS as we modernise patient care. Involving staff in this way is the key to boosting morale."




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