“Rishi Sunak’s government must put forward a proper pay rise or else the NHS will go from being on its knees to being on life support.”Sharon Graham, Unite General Secretary
By Ryan Fletcher, Unite Live
Strike ballots for nearly 3,000 ambulance workers in England open today (October 26) and closes November 30.
The workers, including paramedics and emergency call handlers, are angry over the four per cent NHS Agenda for Change pay award. The award falls well short of the real rate of inflation, RPI, which stands at 12.6 per cent. The award, which was imposed on staff, meant most staff received a little over £100 more in their monthly pay packets.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “For more than a decade, NHS workers’ wages have been eroded, even as workloads became increasingly unmanageable. Now with soaring living costs, the situation is critical.
“The impact of this current real terms pay cut will result in the flood of overworked and underpaid workers leaving the NHS becoming a tsunami,” she added. “Rishi Sunak’s government must put forward a proper pay rise or else the NHS will go from being on its knees to being on life support.”
Workers in the West Midlands, North West, Yorkshire, South Central, South East Coast, North East and East Midlands Ambulance Service Trusts are being balloted for strike action today. Workers in the East of England, London and South Western Ambulance Service Trusts will follow.
More than 2,500 NHS workers in Scotland are also being balloted by Unite and ballots for health care workers in Wales will begin soon, so that resultant industrial action is coordinated across the UK.
Unite national officer for health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe added, “New prime minister Rishi Sunak and his ministers must get a grip of the staffing crisis in the NHS. They must put forward a better pay deal, one that does some not come out of existing, soon to be horrifically squeezed, budgets.
“As well as ambulance workers, we will be balloting other NHS members in strategic locations for strike action in the coming weeks. NHS workers cannot carry on like this. Waiting lists are lengthening and healthcare staff are leaving in alarming numbers. Unite is determined to win a better deal for its members.”