Government faces fresh health workers strike

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The government faces a fresh strike by health workers including nurses, midwives, domestic staff and radiographers in the bitter row over pay.

Members of 11 unions, including staff in the Lancaster and Morecambe area, will walk out for four hours in England on November 24 in another show of protest at the coalition’s controversial decision not to accept a recommended 1% pay rise for all NHS staff.

A series of strikes have been held in recent weeks by different groups of staff, ranging from psychiatric nurses and cleaners to midwives and porters.

Unions said next month’s stoppage will be “stronger than ever”, warning that the commitment of health workers was now at “breaking point”.

The strike on the morning of November 24 will be followed by other forms of industrial action.

Christina McAnea, national officer of Unison, who chairs the NHS trade unions, said: “The next set of industrial action will be even stronger as more unions are joining in.

“Health workers care for patients and their families every day of the year, often when they are at their most vulnerable or distressed.

“The NHS depends on the goodwill and commitment of the workforce and this is now at breaking point.

“The Government has made no attempt to resolve this dispute and staff have been left with no alternative but to take more industrial action. Jeremy Hunt (Health Secretary) needs to realise that this dispute is not going away. All we are asking for is fair pay.”

Trade unions taking part in the action are: Unison, the Royal College of Midwives, the building workers’ union Ucatt, the Society of Radiographers, the British Association of Occupational Therapists, the GMB, Unite, Managers in Partnership, the Prison Officers Association, Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA), and the British Dietetic Association (BDA).

The HCSA and BDA will stage action short of a strike between November 25 and 30.

Rehana Azam, the GMB National Officer for the NHS, said: “

“We regret having to inconvenience NHS users again, but the intransigence of the government and employers leaves us no choice.

“The planned action will undoubtedly cause widespread disruption to NHS services. However, we are sending formal notification of this action to all affected NHS employers so that they can work out essential cover requirements to ensure patient safety.

“We are open to talks but the Health Secretary still refuses to meet the unions. This is not the way to go about dispute resolution.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “We are disappointed by this decision - NHS staff are our greatest asset and we want to make the current pay system fairer, which is why we have put forward proposals that would ensure all staff would get at least a 1% pay rise this year and next, but these have been rejected by the unions.

“We have been clear that we can’t afford a consolidated pay rise in addition to increments without risking frontline jobs.”