Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Thursday, 12 June 2008 13:09 UK

Health union backs strike ballot

Hospital pharmacy
Hospital pharmacists were among those balloted

NHS workers in the Unite union have become the latest to reject the government's three-year pay deal - and have voted to ballot for strike action.

That ballot would offer the options of both a complete strike, or lesser action such as an overtime ban.

The GMB and Royal College of Midwives have already rejected the deal, while Unison and the Royal College of Nursing backed the offer for English NHS staff.

Ministers said the 8% deal is fair, and they were not willing to renegotiate.

Our members are angry and frustrated that they are being asked by the government to accept this woefully inadequate three-year pay deal
Gail Cartmail, Unite

In the Unite ballot of 75,000 people, 94.8% of health sector workers, such as health visitors, hospital pharmacists and hospital chaplains, voted against the pay deal.

It follows a separate ballot last month in which 12,000 ambulance workers and ancillary staff belonging to Unite also rejected the pay deal.

A date for the ballot on strike action has not yet been set.

'Pay cut'

The union's assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail, said: "This overwhelming vote sends a clear message.

"Our members are angry and frustrated that they are being asked by the government to accept this woefully inadequate three-year pay deal."

She added the deal amounted to a "substantial pay cut", when rising petrol, utility bill and mortgage costs were taken into account.

The government's pay offer would give more than one million staff a pay increase of 2.75% from April, followed by further increases of 2.4% in 2009/10 and 2.25% in 2010/11.

That would take a nurse's starting salary to just over 20,000 this year.

The offer is the highest in the public sector and is aimed at heading off the threat of NHS industrial action.

Health secretary Alan Johnson has said the NHS and patients "would benefit from pay stability" over the next three years.




SEE ALSO
A summer of less discontent?
06 Jun 08 |  Business
Health workers reject pay offer
30 May 08 |  Health

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