NHS pay deal: we feel misled by Unison, say member group

Unison faces a call for answers on how NHS pay deal was 'sold' to members

Unison faces a call for answers on how NHS pay deal was 'sold' to members

  • Unison members unhappy at how they say three-year pay proposal was presented
  • Union defends how it explained deal to members
  • GMB ballots members over future industrial action
  • NHS workers want pay talks reopened
GMB Unison
Pay deal confusion has led many nurse union members to call for talks to be reopened, while the
GMB union is balloting members over the next steps to take, which could include industrial action.
Picture: John Houlihan

One of the unions that led the NHS pay negotiations is facing calls from its members to hold a special meeting over how it promoted the three-year deal to them.

A petition on the issue by a group of Unison members comes as the RCN leadership faces the prospect of a vote of no confidence over pay deal confusion, with the college pledging an independent review.

‘Our union failed to counter the media narrative that 1.3 million NHS staff were in line for increases of up to 29%’

Unison-Action South East petition 

A group called Unison-Action South East claims the three-year pay deal was presented in a misleading way to the union's members, a claim vehemently denied by Unison officials.

It calls for Unison to hold a ‘special health workers' conference’ to discuss the implications of the deal and whether pay talks could reopen.

'Members will vote with their feet'

The group's petition states: ‘Our union failed to counter the media narrative that 1.3 million NHS staff were in line for increases of up to 29%.’

It goes on to say that many NHS staff have discovered they are not being paid as much as they were expecting or are taking home less, either than they thought they would or than they had previously as a result of increased pension and tax contributions.

Unison-Action South East predicted disgruntled members 'will vote with their feet'.

Unison claims RCN has added to confusion

A Unison spokesperson defended its pay deal communications.

‘Individual staff will receive increases that are a mixture of cost of living and reform of the pay bands,’ the spokesperson said. ‘This was all made clear in both Unison materials and those produced jointly by the unions. Unfortunately some information put out by the RCN has led to some confusion.

‘Everyone will be better off under this deal and the reformed pay structure it leads to.’

GMB calls for new pay review

The row about whether or not members were misled – and if so how – could be seen as an opportunity for the GMB, the only union of the 14 in the talks to urge members to walk away from the proposal.

The union today announced plans to ramp up its opposition to the deal with a demonstration at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust on 3 August.

GMB regional organiser Gary Palmer said: 'GMB’s #itsanofromus demo is about saying if you feel cheated, lied to, undervalued or just plain angry.’

He said the union wants to force a fresh pay review.

The GMB is balloting members over its next steps, including whether they would be prepared to take industrial action subject to any future ballot. The poll closes on 8 August.

NHS workers' petition to government

A group of more than 30 NHS workers have organised a petition calling on new health and social care secretary Matt Hancock to reopen negotiations.

The petition claims staff were mis-sold the pay agreement and calls for an apology.

The Department of Health and Social Care declined to comment, pointing instead to NHS Employers' position that confusion at the RCN did not compromise the pay deal.

'Everyone will be better off under this deal and the reformed pay structure it leads to. That's why staff voted overwhelmingly to accept it last month’

Unison spokesperson

Confusion over extent of pay increase

Trumpeted as the biggest pay rise for nurses in a decade, some staff say they were told they would receive a 3% increase in July's pay packet but only got 1.5%.

July's pay increase is the first of three in the staggered deal, with a 1.7% rise due in 2019 and a final 1.7% increase in 2020.

RCN emergency general meeting

Nurse activist and RCN petition co-organiser Danielle Tiplady met RCN council chair Maria Trewen today to discuss the details of an emergency general meeting.

Ms Tiplady said the meeting was likely to take place at the end of September.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies took the unusual step last week of writing to members to apologise for confusion. Within days, the college announced it would commission an independent investigation into how any mix-up happened.


More than 1,000 RCN members have submitted a petition to the college calling for a vote of no confidence in the college's ruling council.

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