Pay dispute industrial action plans

£20 notes

06 / 8 / 2014 9.52am

I am writing to give you a quick update on the current plans for industrial action in the NHS over the pay dispute. As you know, a number of the health unions will be balloting their members over the next month to ask if they wish to take industrial action. A full list of the ballot dates is already available on our website.

As part of this process, Christina McAnea, Head of Health at UNISON, has written to me to confirm that UNISON will begin the process of formally notifying NHS employing organisations of their ballot dates from 12 August 2014. Members of UNISON will then receive ballot papers from 28 August, with the ballot closing on 18 September 2014.

In addition, the letter highlighted that the ballot materials will carry the following description of the action UNISON are likely to ask members to take:

A yes vote from members will mean starting our programme of action with a four-hour strike followed by a short period of action short of strike (e.g. taking your proper breaks or working your contracted hours) in mid-October.

We will be asking UNISON for more details about the timing of a four-hour strike and stressing the need for as much notice of the precise date of the action as possible, so we can maximise patient safety.

We expect that the other health unions balloting their members over industrial action, Unite, GMB and the Royal College of Midwives, will follow a similar route.

In light of the ballots, you may wish to review our recently updated guidance on Industrial action and contingency planning, prepared with our strategic partner Capsticks.

You may have also seen in our NHS Workforce bulletin this week that, as we expected, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has written to the NHS Pay Review Bodies, confirming that they will not be asked to make recommendations on a pay award for Agenda for Change staff, or for NHS-employed doctors and dentists, for 2015/16. The Government will follow the same approach to national pay that was implemented in 2014.

The NHS Pay Review Body may still be given a remit to consider further reform of national pay and conditions (possibly around barriers to seven-day services) later in the year and the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Pay Review Body may be given a remit to consider national contractual matters, subject to progress in the current negotiations on contracts for consultant doctors and for doctors in training later in the year.

We are working with Capsticks to make sure we provide you with the support you need if any industrial action is confirmed. We are already planning an update session / webinars to help you safely manage the effect of any potential industrial action on your organisation, along with additional resources and guidance, such as templates and helplines. 

We will continue to provide further updates and keep you informed as the situation develops, but please let me know if there are any particular areas where you would benefit from additional help and support from us during this time.

As always, you can contact me at and can also follow us on Twitter and join my LinkedIn page where I will be posting regular updates.

With best wishes,


Dean Royles

Chief Executive, NHS Employers

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