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Further strike action will be necessary if government ignores pay issue

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Further industrial action might be necessary if the government refuses to negotiate over pay, union health representatives have said.

Speaking to Independent Nurse, Rachael Maskell, Unite's head of health, said that there was still a high level of anger over the rejection of the one per cent pay increase by the DH. This could lead to continued industrial action if health secretary Jeremy Hunt is not prepared to negotiate. 'If the government continues to ignore our requests for negotiations over pay issues, then we will have to consider further industrial action. Jeremy Hunt has a civic and political duty to come to the negotiating table. We have said we are willing to negotiate at any time, night or day, but so far the health secretary has refused to open a dialogue,' she said.

An RCM spokesman said that more industrial action was 'on the cards' until the government was prepared to negotiate.

'We are willing to begin talks over pay immediately. However, until then, we will not rule anything out,' he said.

An RCN spokesman said that the union was monitoring the situation, but refused to comment on whether it would join the other unions in industrial action if the government remained unwilling to negotiate.

Members of the RCM, Unite, Unison and the GMB in England staged a four-hour walkout over pay on 13 October. The strike began at 7am and finished at 11am. Following this, union members worked 'to rule', which meant that they took all allocated breaks and did not work unpaid overtime.

Ms Maskell said that the union had received 'overwhelmingly positive' feedback from those who had taken part in the industrial action. She said: 'I feel that the strike was a great success. Our members know that we are fighting for them. We have seen massive public support for the action.'

The strike was the first time the RCM had taken industrial action in its 133-year history.

To see the public response to the strike click here

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