Anti-union laws slow down NHS pay fight

A Free Our Unions supporter working in the NHS writes…

Another year, another pay cut.

NHS staff have suffered 10 years of pay cuts and lost about 15% off the value of our pay. We’ve now got over 100,000 vacancies and record high demand. The 3% “rise” this year is a pay cut when adjusted for inflation. A pay cut is bad for us, bad for our patients, and bad for the NHS.

During the first year of the pandemic the richest 171 individuals in the UK took home over £106 billion (around three times the wage bill for the entire NHS). Enough is enough – join the strike movement.

All the unions are now either balloting or consulting on strikes. But because successive governments have shackled workers’ organisations with anti-union laws, we can only have a legal strike if over 50% of union members vote, and if at least 40% of all those balloted vote yes.

Other workers have shown this is possible. Higher education workers, railworkers and others have all got large strike mandates. If we organise and vote then we can join millions of other workers fighting back against this government of the rich.

The following unions are balloting:

Unison is running its second indicative ballot from 3-29 November. If over 45% of members vote UNISON will proceed to a formal postal ballot. If you’re a Unison member, check your email for link to vote, or visit

GMB is running a formal postal ballot from 10 November to 15 December.

RCN is running its second indicative ballot from 4-30 November. Check your email to vote. Depending on the outcome, a formal ballot may follow.

In Unite, certain branches will launch formal ballots in the new yuear. Contact your branch for more info.

If you’re not in a union, join one today!

It’s so hard for us to take industrial action because the UK has what Tony Blair, in 1996, proudly called “the most restrictive anti-union laws in the Western world”. Since then more restrictions have been put in place.

We need abolition of the anti-trade union laws, which hamstring workers organising and taking action, and their replacement with strong legal workers’ rights. Otherwise we are fighting the challenges of low pay, insecurity and lack of rights with our hands tied behind our backs.

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