Further NHS walkouts planned

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NHS workers are gearing up for their third and biggest walk-out yet over a pay dispute.

Union members will go on strike from 9am to 9pm on Thursday, January 29, and ambulance staff will strike from noon until midnight.

They will then work to rule between Friday, January 30, and Tuesday, February 24, which means they will be working their contracted hours, will take their breaks and not do unpaid overtime.

This will be followed a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, February 25.

Workers are taking action because the government has refused to award a one per cent pay rise that was recommended by an independent pay review panel.

As a result union members staged four-hour strikes in October and November last year.

Tony Jones, Unison south east regional head of health, said: ‘We warned months ago that this dispute is here to stay unless the government and NHS employers are prepared to negotiate with us.

‘We decided not to take strike action over the Christmas period as services were already at breaking point at this time. Our members are demonstrating their concern for patient safety. I only wish the employers and government would do the same.

‘Instead they are being completely irresponsible by refusing to have meaningful negotiations on how we resolve this dispute. And they are putting patients lives at risk.

‘Our members’ pay has been frozen or held down for the past five years and there is no end in sight. On average, they have lost around 10 per cent in the value of their pay over the life of this parliament.

‘We now have no option but to escalate and plan for longer strikes. The anger among health workers has reached levels where they are now ready to walk out for 24 hours.

‘NHS staffs have been singled out by this coalition government for the worst treatment across the public sector.

‘Other groups will get their recommended pay increases – for MPs this is 11 per cent.’