NHS staff to stage fresh strikes


Published: Friday 19th December 2014 by The News Editor

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The Government is facing a fresh wave of strikes by health workers in the new year amid the bitter dispute over pay.

Unison announced that its NHS members in England will walk out for 12 hours from 9am on January 29, while ambulance workers in the GMB union in England and Northern Ireland will strike on January 29 and 30.

The dispute has been raging all year after the Government decided not to accept a recommended 1% pay rise for all NHS staff.

Unison said its members will stage a second strike, for 24 hours, on February 24.

NHS staff will also launch a work to rule between January 30 and February 24, including refusing to do unpaid overtime and making sure they take their breaks.

Health workers from 12 unions, including nurses and midwives, took strike action in October and November – many for the first time in their lives.

Unison said the third round of industrial action next month was part of a continued protest at the Government’s decision to reject a 1% pay rise for NHS staff which was recommended by the independent Pay Review Body in 2014, and the fact most health workers will not receive a pay increase in 2015/16.

Christina McAnea, Unison’s head of health, said: “We warned months ago that this dispute is here to stay unless the Government and NHS employers are prepared to negotiate with us.

“Today is likely to be the busiest day in the NHS with ambulance and A&E staff put under huge pressure to deal with the fallout from the many Christmas parties taking place across the country.

“We have decided not to take strike action over the Christmas period as services are already at breaking point at this time. Our members are demonstrating their concern for patient safety. I only wish the employers and Government would do the same.

“Instead, they are being completely irresponsible by refusing to have meaningful negotiations on how we resolve this dispute, and they are putting patients lives at risk.

“Our members’ pay has been frozen or held down for the past five years and there is no end in sight. On average, they have lost around 10% in the value of their pay over the life of this parliament.

“We now have no option but to escalate and plan for longer strikes. The anger among health workers has reached levels where they are now ready to walk out for 24 hours. NHS staff have been singled out by this coalition government for the worst treatment across the public sector.

“Other groups will get their recommended pay increases – for MPs this is 11%.

“It is a national disgrace that 77,000 NHS staff still don’t receive the Living Wage and that many have to rely on food banks. The governments in Wales and Scotland have committed to paying this.

“All we are asking is for fair and decent pay for NHS workers. “

Rehana Azam, national officer of the GMB, said: “It is regrettable that GMB has no alternative but to escalate the strike action in the NHS.

“The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, is acting irresponsibly with a continued entrenched position by not engaging in any meaningful talks with the health unions.”

Steve Rice, who chairs the GMB’s ambulance section, added: “I have worked for the ambulance service for almost four decades and, in this time, I have worked under 17 secretaries of state for Health.

“Never have I experienced staff morale at such a breaking point.”

Published: Friday 19th December 2014 by The News Editor

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