Health workers will fight plans to remove unsocial hours pay

Unison members have overwhelmingly voted in favour of two motions defending unsocial hours payments

Unison members have vowed to mount a vigorous defence against any future government plans to remove unsocial hours pay.

Roz Norman
Unison Health Service group executive chair Roz Norman. Picture credit: Neil O’Connor

At Unison’s annual health conference in Liverpool yesterday, health workers, including nurses and healthcare assistants, voted in favour of a motion outlining the key areas to focus on in the NHS pay campaign.

The motion, proposed by Unison Health Service group executive chair Roz Norman, calls for Unison to continue to campaign for pay in the NHS to increase in line with inflation, to strive for a living wage for all NHS workers and to defend the value of unsocial hours payments.

The motion comes just three months after the Department of Health said unsocial hours payments could be scrapped to make 24/7 working across the NHS affordable. This could see NHS staff in England losing payments for working evenings and weekends as part of measures to reduce the costs of running 24/7 health services.

Health minister Dan Poulter has asked the NHS Independent Pay Review Body (RB) to look into how 24/7 services can be introduced at no extra cost. The RB is due to publish its report in June.

Ms Norman said: ‘There are still 77,000 of our workers who are paid below the minimum wage. We are looking to protect unsocial hours payments. Staff rely on these payments for their shopping, mortgages and simply just to live.’

She told delegates that the new government, post election, should be warned not to remove unsocial hours pay, as members are gearing up to fight against its removal.

‘We will ballot our members for industrial action,’ she said. ‘Our members are in dire straits and they need the money. If the government comes after our unsocial hours we need to ensure we are stood shoulder to shoulder in all four countries of the UK and will take our members on strike and fight for these hours until the government says it will continue to pay them.’

A composite motion on defending unsocial hours payments, proposed by North West Regional Health Committee and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust stewards, was also carried by majority vote.

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