600,000 NHS workers threaten strike after 'insult' of no pay rise

Jeremy Hunt accused of using 'underhand tactic'

Health Reporter

NHS workers are considering strike action after the Government announced that 600,000 NHS workers would be denied a below-inflation one per cent pay rise.

Unions accused David Cameron of a “direct attack” on public sector workers and said that the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had used “underhand tactics” to try and cloak the pay freeze.

Some NHS staff will get the one per cent pay rise, the Government announced yesterday in an annual review of public sector pay but more than half - including 70 per cent of nurses - who are already on a scheme called the “progression pay increase” will not get the salary boost.

Staff receive the annual increment as they gain more skills. The Department of Health said it represented a two per cent increase per year and claimed their policy would make NHS pay fairer.

But the Unite union accused Mr Hunt of using a “despicable... underhand tactic” by claiming that progression pay was the same as annual public sector pay increases. The union is consulting its 100,000 health service members on possible industrial action. The GMB union is also consulting to “decide the next steps” in the dispute.

Rehana Azam, GMB national officer, said that staff would take the blocking of the one per cent pay rise as a “personal insult," but David Cameron said that staff needed to look at the “big picture”.

Mr Cameron said: “It is right to make difficult decisions about public sector pay. It is good that it is increasing and not frozen. But it is right to take these difficult decisions because it means that we can keep more people employed, more people in work, we can make sure we spend money on vital treatments, on hospitals, on delivering services which is what patients so badly want.”

The Department of Health’s claim that incremental progression represented a 2 per cent increase in salary costs each year was challenged by the independent NHS Pay Review Body, which said its net cost was in fact 0.6 per cent and may well be lower this year as more staff reach the top of their pay band.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said that the Government’s decision amounted to “a pay cut, pure and simple”.

“Midwives are angry about this,” said Jon Skewes, the RCM’s director for policy, employment relations and communication. “It is yet another body-blow to NHS staff facing rising pressures and working ever harder without any reward. Midwives have been struggling to cope with years of rising prices and stagnant wages.”

Unison said that even a one per cent increase would have been “nowhere near enough” to match the cost of living increases for NHS staff, who they said were on average 10 per cent worse off than when the Coalition came to power. More than a third of non-medical NHS staff are paid less than £21,000 and the bottom two pay bands are below the Living Wage.

Unison’s head of health, Christina McAnea, said: “This Coalition Government has taken a scalpel to the Pay Body’s report and won’t escape the anger of NHS staff.

"It’s a disgrace that 70 per cent of nurses and midwives will not even get a pay rise this year – what sort of message does this give to the value this Government places on dedicated NHS staff ?”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future