A Unison survey has found 80% of NHS workers were unhappy with the 3% pay rise that has been awarded by the UK government
NHS staff have voted overwhelmingly in opposition to the government’s 3% pay rise as Britain’s biggest health union had warned thousands of workers are “fed up of being taken for granted”.
Unison says that thousands of ‘exhausted’ NHS health workers are on the brink of quitting their roles for better paid jobs.
Publishing the results of a consultation exercise that was running over the summer, Unison said that the majority (80%) of health staff were unhappy with the pay increase and wanted to challenge the government. Only one in five (20%) found the pay rise acceptable.
The government is now coming under growing pressure to reconsider its pay award. The Unison opposition, which is to be discussed at its annual conference today, comes just days following nine out of 10 members of the Royal College of Nursing said that the rise was not acceptable within a consultative ballot.
This comes after the first Covid booster vaccines have been given to NHS staff in England and Wales as part of plans to extend protection for millions this winter. Covid booster shots will be offered to the over 50s, healthcare workers, and younger adults with certain health conditions.
Unison said that thousands of “exhausted” NHS staff, including nurses, healthcare assistants and ambulance workers, as well as hospital porters, were on the brink of leaving their jobs for better paying positions.
With other sectors boosting their wages in order to attract workers, the union warned that many of the health staff are looking to switch to less stressful and better paying jobs elsewhere.
“The fact that so many health staff say they are willing to stand together to challenge the 3% should make the government think twice,” said Unison head of health Sara Gorton.
“Many feel so let down they’re telling us they feel like quitting overnight.”
Inflation has already wiped out the wage rise that NHS workers had received, she added.
“Boris Johnson said he would give the NHS what it needed. Instead, rising costs mean staff will be no better off – adding to low morale, burnout and disillusion,” said Gorton. “Hospital admissions are rising, the backlog feels overwhelming, and the threat of the worst winter ever is looming large.”
Unison had called for a pay rise of at least £2,000, saying that the 3% increase delivers this for NHS staff who are paid more than £70,000, but that those on the lowest wages are only receiving less than £600.
“Unison gave the pay review body and the government compelling evidence that a minimum £2,000 rise would be enough to persuade people to stay. But both chose to disregard this.”
This comes after services may be cut unless NHS England receives an extra £10bn in funding next year, groups representing the service have warned. The NHS Confederation, as well as NHS Providers have said that the money was needed to cover pandemic-related costs.
The union will now be launching a ballot in order to see how many of its health members would be prepared to take both the sustained and widespread industrial action that it believes is needed to change the decision of the government.
The Royal College of Nursing has urged the government to reconsider the pay award last week following members saying in a ballot that such a low rate for NHS workers was unacceptable.
Other unions are also balloting health workers over their pay.