Pay: The potential for a fight grows

Unison’s Service Group Executive (the equivalent of Unite’s Health Sector National Committee) has now met twice to discuss pay – in one long but inconclusive meeting yesterday, followed by another long but inclusive meeting today.

The expectation of many Unison activists had been that the Service Group Executive would simply agree the recommendations of national negotiators, agree the pay offer, and ask Unison’s Health Conference to endorse this position. This has not happened – reflecting the real anger of many of Unison’s leading activists at a pay offer that is so woefully inadequate. 

The Service Group Executive eventually agreed two emergency motions on pay, both to be placed before Unison’s Conference. One was for a ballot of members with no recommendation to be put; the other was for an immediate card vote at the Conference to determine acceptance or rejection of the offer. Breaking news is that the ‘emergency card vote’ motion has been ruled out of order by Unison’s Standing Orders Committee.

There’s therefore a level of confusion about what will actually happen. I’m told there will be at least three emergency pay motions before Conference – but, significantly, not a single one of them will recommend acceptance of the proposed three year deal. Why? For the simple reason that a growing number of activists are seeing through the spin and recognising that this is an astonishingly bad pay offer.

In a separate development, the Unite (TGWU) committee representing health workers has met and is recommending that members reject the offer. The Unite (Amicus) committee will meet on 22nd April, and is exceptionally unlikely to recommend acceptance.

There is growing potential here for a fight across all our unions. The three year pay offer is quite obviously intended to be three years of pay cuts. It’s intended to meet a Government agenda of pay restraint – but does nothing to meet the aspirations of health workers.

This is a rotten pay offer – and it needs to be booted out.

Reports on recent events at Unison Conference – written by SGE member Nick Holden – are here:


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