NHS staff to be balloted over strike action in dispute over pay


HUNDREDS of NHS staff in the region are to be balloted over strike action in a bitter dispute over pay.

Local union organisers say staff are “fed up to the back teeth” with what they see as privatisation of the NHS and Government cuts.

The University Hospital of Hartlepool

The University Hospital of Hartlepool

Mike Hill, Unison organiser for the northern region described the Government’s latest wage rise offer of just one per cent as “derisory”.

He said: “Health workers in Hartlepool are fed up to the back teeth of services being privatised and undue pressure being placed on NHS services by Government cuts.

“The latest pay offer of one per cent to some and nothing for others is derisory and a kick in the teeth.”

Delegates at a Unison health conference yesterday backed an emergency motion calling for the union’s 450,000 NHS members to be asked whether they want to take action over the Coalition’s decision not to award an across-the-board one per cent wage rise, as recommended by a pay review body.

Mr Hill said nurses, technicians and support staff who work at hospitals and health centres in and around Hartlepool would be affected by any strike action.

Staff for mental health services provided by the Tees Esk and Wear Valley are also among Unison’s members.

Mr Hill added: “There is increased pressure at hospitals due to the service changes in Hartlepool and a reduction in funding provision from the Government.

“Year in year out, the North Tees and Hartlepool hospital trust is required to make savings which puts pressure on their budgets and pressure on staff as reflected in sickness absence.”

Action may also include a ban on overtime, working to contract and refusing to carry out admin work.

Union’s national officer for health, Christina McAnea, told the conference in Brighton: “Our members don’t strike often or easily, but this time it does feel that we have no choice.

“We’re saying strike for a pay award that starts to redress the value of your pay, strike for a living wage for all, and because a demoralised and demotivated workforce is not good for patients.

“We have a Government in England that seems to be deliberately provoking us into a dispute and is no doubt already preparing for one.”

She said emergency cover will be provided if strikes go ahead.