Politics: Union wants big pay rise for NHS

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The Independent Online
Britain's biggest union, Unison, yesterday issued a major political challenge to the Government when it lodged a 10 per cent pay demand on behalf of NHS employees.

The claim was issued despite the Chancellor's insistence the Government will stick to the previous administration's tight limit on public expenditure.

With the pay-review bodies for public-sector workers due to deliver their reports to Downing Street, the Treasury is maintaining its tough line on public sector pay but was moving to head off a threatened backbench revolt over a fresh round of cuts.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Alistair Darling, will next week meet officers of the Labour backbench committees to explain the Treasury's strategy for changing the spending priorities inherited from the Tories. "He will be saying it is ... a change of priorities giving some areas more money," said a source.

Unison, the 1.2 million-strong public service union, wants a settlement to include minimum wage of pounds 4.42-an-hour.