Rights at work: you've earned it

21 May 2021

Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, Unite national officer for health, explains why Unite-CPHVA is campaigning for the pay rise all NHS workers deserve. 

In March, the UK Government’s evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) delivered the sledgehammer news that it was recommending a paltry pay rise of 1% for NHS workers this year. This was despite the praise heaped on NHS workers during the pandemic. The announcement falls well short of Unite-CPHVA’s pay claim of £3000 or 15%, whichever is greater.

Unite-CPHVA assembled a team to give oral evidence to the PRB on 23 March, after submitting our written evidence back in January (see statistics, right). Our lay activists did a fantastic job to portray what a decent pay rise would mean for NHS workers.

Many NHS staff who remained at the top of their band have seen a 19% real decrease in their pay since 2010. In the same time, MPs have seen a real increase in their pay of 2%.

We can afford a decent pay rise – independent analysis by London Economics has showed that increasing the Agenda for Change pay bill by 10% has a net cost of just £0.66bn. Remember the government is planning to spend £37bn on an unfit-for-purpose test and trace system.

What next?

We will continue to campaign on this issue. We have urged members to write to MPs and encouraged members from across the Unite family to share photos displaying their support for NHS workers. Please continue to use our materials and share them with your colleagues and friends, so the government will not get away with this poor treatment of NHS staff.

We will not be idle waiting for the PRB report and are ready to conduct an indicative ballot for industrial action should the pay award not meet our expectations. Please ensure your membership details are up to date on the Unite website.


At the end of March, the Scottish Government made an offer of 4% on the pay bill of the Scottish NHS backdated to December 2020 with any Barnett formula consequentials that flow from any PRB settlement. The government also will give a one-off £500 payment to NHS workers as a thank you. The pay offer has been out to consultation and trade unions are set to report the outcome of the consultation on 12 May.

Wales and Northern Ireland

The Wales and Northern Ireland governments also await the recommendation. Neither government submitted evidence to the PRB asking for a 1% increase for NHS workers. The NI Government will give a one-off £500 payment to NHS workers, and the Welsh Government £735.

For more information contact your CPHVA LAR or Unite the Union district or regional office. Information in this article was correct as of 26 April 2021.

Image Credit | Shutterstock

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