Health workers across the North West are preparing for a 12-hour walkout later this month. The strike is over the unresolved issue of NHS pay and will take place on Thursday 29 January between 9am and 9pm. Ambulance workers will join the strike between 12 (noon) and 12 (midnight).
The action marks a ramping up of the pressure on the Government and employers to resolve the dispute following four-hour stoppages in October and November. UNISON members will again be joined in taking strike action by members of eleven other health unions.
In addition to the strike on 29 January a work to rule is planned between Friday 30 January and Tuesday 24 February which means staff will work only their contracted hours and will take their scheduled breaks. If the dispute is still not resolved, there will be a 24-hour strike on Wednesday 25 February.
The escalating industrial action is a result of the Government’s decision to reject the 1% pay rise for NHS staff that was recommended by the independent Pay Review Body in 2014. The Government intends that most health staff will again be denied any pay increase in 2015/16.
Amy Barringer UNISON North West Head of Health said:
“NHS staff have already seen their pay frozen and capped for the past five years and there is no end in sight. On average, staff have already lost around 10% in the value of their pay.
“Many NHS workers are facing serious financial hardship. It is a disgrace that so many NHS staff still don’t receive the Living Wage and that many have to rely on food banks.
“NHS staff in England have been singled out for uniquely bad treatment by the Coalition Government. Other groups will get their recommended pay increases – for MPs this is 11%. The governments in Wales and Scotland have committed to pay NHS staff the Living Wage.
Jean Blevin works at the Walton Centre Neurology Hospital in Liverpool and chairs the UNISON North West Health Committee. Jean said:
“We don’t strike lightly, but NHS staff feel they have no alternative but to act against their unfair treatment by the Government. It feels like a slap in the face for staff to be denied even a 1% pay increase when they are working flat out to keep services afloat. Our wages are not keeping up with the cost of living and we can’t afford for this to carry on. NHS workers are determined that they should be paid fairly.”