Unison urges nurses and support staff to accept three-year NHS pay deal

Executive vice-chair of UK’s largest public service union endorses proposed deal at its Brighton health conference

Executive vice-chair of UK’s largest public service union endorses proposed deal at its Brighton health conference

Unison group executive vice-chair George Barron. Picture: Marcus Rose

Representatives of the UK's largest public service union have urged members to support the NHS pay deal.

Unison said last month it would support the three-year deal, but its position has now been endorsed by delegates at the union's annual health conference.

The union represents a broad range of workers in the NHS, from band 1 and 2 support staff to nurses.

Unison has the second largest number of nursing members after the RCN, which is also asking members to accept the pay deal being offered by the government.

‘Let's get it in your pay packets by June’

Speaking in a conference debate yesterday, Unison health service group executive vice-chair George Barron said: ‘This is the best deal through negotiation. It’s a good deal. The right deal. Let’s make it and get it in members' pay packets by June or July.’

Delegate Sam Kimberley, of University Hospitals Birmingham, told the audience: ‘There’s no doubt that this offer is not enough. No one would accept that it’s all that we are worth.

‘But it does break through the pay cap, which was set to go on and on. And the biggest thing: it delivers for the lowest paid.’

She added: ‘I don’t stand to benefit much at all, because I am at the top of my band. But searching my conscience, do I vote for what is best for me or do I vote for what is best for all members?’

Only the GMB union has come out against the deal, which would increase pay for nurses by between 6.5% and 29% over the next three years.

The government has set aside £4.2 billion to fund the pay package, but reaction to the offer has been mixed on social media.

What is included in the pay offer?

  • The band 5 starting salary will increase from £22,128 to £24,907 in 2020.
  • Those at the top of their band will receive a 3% increase this year and further rises of 1.7% in 2019 and 2020. They will also receive a one-off lump sum of 1.1% in April 2019.
  • The pay offer puts an end to the 1% pay cap, which had been in place since 2015. The pay cap followed five years of pay freezes.
  • The pay deal is only for nurses and non-medical staff in England.

Unison opened a ballot of members working in the NHS in England on 16 April. Members will have until 5 June to accept or reject the deal.

RCN members in England will have their say during a consultation between 23 April and 5 June.

Nursing Standard podcast

Subscribe to Nursing Standard podcast on iTunes, Spotify or Stitcher to hear the RCN’s head of employment relations Josie Irwin argue the case for accepting the pay deal.

Going head-to-head with the college’s lead negotiator will be former RCN president Andrea Spyropoulos, who will recommend nurses reject the deal.

The podcast will go live on 2 May.

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