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Unions vote to accept government's pay offer

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The offer followed a series of strikes The offer followed a series of strikes

Unison and the RCM have voted to accept the government's offer of a consolidated 1% pay rise.

Of the 44.5% of RCM members who voted in the ballot, 93.9% voted yes and 6.1% voted against accepting the proposal. Unison's members were more divided but voted to accept the pay offer, with 67% of their members voting for the proposal, and 32% against.

Unison's head of health Christina McAnea, said: 'Our members have voted to accept this offer. Although it does not go far enough, it is an improvement and it will make a difference particularly to over 250,000 of the lowest-paid in the NHS. By ignoring the recommendations of the NHS Pay Review Body for England, the government forced health workers to take strike action over pay for the first time in 34 years.'

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said: 'I am pleased that RCM members voted in favour of accepting the offer. This is the best that could be achieved by negotiations and we achieved significant improvements following our campaign and industrial action and in the negotiations. It shows that negotiations with NHS unions is far better that imposition.'

The government's offer included a consolidated 1% payment for all staff up to band 8B and an additional £200 consolidated payment for lower paid staff on pay points three to eight. The first point on the pay scale will be abolished and the second will be raised to £15,100. The offer was made on 28 January after negotiations between Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, and NHS unions. This followed a series of strikes and related industrial action after the government declined to follow the NHS Pay Review Body's recommendations.

Ms McAnea added: 'We are calling on any government elected in May to develop a pay strategy that rewards health workers fairly for the demanding jobs they do, and ensures the NHS can continue to recruit and retain a high quality workforce.The current state of pay in the NHS means many workers rely on unsocial hours payments to make ends meet. We know this government wants to cut these. The industrial action over the last six months should be a warning to ministers that our members will not accept further cuts.'

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: 'It is now very likely these difficult months of NHS industrial action are over. This will be a huge relief for many patients, staff and health services. This is a clear signal that the NHS is entering a new phase where all parties must work together in partnership to ensure that the national pay system is sustainable for the future.

'Any solution will need to support better, safer and more responsive services to patients and more efficient use of NHS resources.'

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