Unison strike bulletin Jan 2015 Page 2

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1982 Pay Dispute: members of NHS nursing unions - which later merged to form UNISON campaigned and took strike action to win improved pay and conditions - what was won by previous generations is now being eroded. Time to Act!

Please circulate the latest strike leaflet - click link to download

The industrial action thousands of health workers have already taken has kept pay in the media spotlight and won public support for NHS staff.   That action is helping us to win the argument over pay — even NHS leaders are now calling for a change of direction, recognising that more pay freezes will damage the NHS and patient care.

That puts more pressure on the government. Now we have to increase that pressure to make Jeremy Hunt change his pay policy and treat you fairly.


A fair deal for 2015

UNISON is very clear. This dispute is not just about the 1% PRB- recommended increase that was taken away from you last year. It is about the government’s plan not to give you a pay rise this year too.

That’s another year of your pay falling further behind the cost of living, of 77,000 staff earning below the Living Wage and of politicians saying you’re not worth a decent pay rise.

Now the government has announced plans to cuts unsocial hours payments which will make staff even more hard up and will make the recruitment problem worse.

Time to step up

That’s why we have planned two more days of strike action. A twelve hour strike between 9 a.m. and p.m. on Thursday 29 January and a 24 hour strike on Wednesday 25 February. Between these two strike days we are asking you to take your breaks and not to work for free. We will continue to work with employers to ensure that patient safety remains our priority during the action we are taking.

We know you support our fair pay campaign but it is only by standing together in UNISON that we can win a proper pay rise this year.

Step up and take part – help to make the action more successful and make a difference for yourself, your colleagues, your patients and the NHS.

Please circulate the latest strike leaflet - click link to download

The industrial action you have already taken is supported by the public and is really putting pressure on the government and NHS leaders.

In 2015 we will be increasing this pressure.

We will be asking you to take strike action again on Thursday 29 January and Wednesday 25 February.

In between these two days we will be asking you to take action short of strike.

It’s time to stand together in UNISON and fight for:

  • a proper pay rise for all NHS staff
  • the Living Wage for the lowest paid
  • a commitment to close the gap between your pay and your bills

Finally, UNISON would like to thank you for your support in this campaign.

We know many of you will be working while others enjoy the Christmas break.

We send our best wishes for the festive season to your and your family.

Make a new year’s resolution to be part of the action in 2015.

How you can help

  • Email your MPIf you haven’t already done so, we are asking you to  to let them know what you think about your pay.
  • Update your detailsMake sure your details are up to date, including your email and mobile number so we can send you updates about the campaign.
  • Ask a friend to join UNISON Let your colleagues know about the new strike dates and industrial action. They can join UNISON now and take part in the action and make our voice even stronger!

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It is 8 years since NHS staff had a pay rise to match inflation, 8 years of pay not keeping up with prices, with hundreds of thousands of healthworkers becoming poorer as a result.  Now most staff have been denied any pay rise this year or next, and to cap it all the government is demanding the Pay Review Body reduces unsocial hours payments next year.

These attacks are a kick in the teeth for staff who are working harder than ever to meet the growing demand for NHS services at a time that budgets are being cut; when NHS trusts can’t recruit staff and are relying on casual and agency staff to cover vacancies.

The assault on pay alone was enough to push many to support the call by 13 NHS unions to take strike actionon 24th November, but the deteriorating state of patient care and growing concern about the future of the NHS brought an added urgency and stronger support for the action.

Nurses taking effective strike action without endangering patients is a lot easier than you might think!
The starting point is recognising there are normal times when staffing levels and activity are lower than the busiest times.  Hospitals routinely expect staff to cover emergencies through the night on minimum staffing levels.  On weekends and Bank Holidays activity levels drop to a minimum.nurse

On the adult mental health admission ward where I work, all the Unison members (all but one of the non-medical staff) struck if they were on duty, or showed support by respecting and supporting the picket lines on 13th October and 24th November.  This included the ward manager and modern matron!  Nursing staff on other wards  and in the community struck to  leave a Christmas day service.  No harm came to any patients in the core services that had to remain open.

There is a recipe for quality patient care.  First take lots of people with a good basic education and give them a good training to meet the huge variation in needs they are likely to encounter in meeting the health needs of a population of 65 million people.  Preferably do this for free so they don’t start work worrying about how they are going to pay off their debt  - staff distracted with money worries haven’t got their mind fully on the job.


The Living wage is a key part of this year’s pay claim. We want it to apply to NHS staff and those employed by contractors and employment agencies. But this will not be won without leadership from low paid workers and strong community and political support. Oxford’s Labour City Council supports the Living Wage for its own workforce and requires contractors to pay it. They believe all local employers should pay it.


We organised a public meeting at Oxford Town Hall 18th November to begin to build a broad campaign
Speakers were (left to right below): Imran (UNISON Steward, John Radcliffe Hospital), Wendy Bond (member of Living Wage Commission), Councillor Van Coulter (Oxford City Council) and Roger McKenzie (UNISON Assistant General Secretary).

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