GMB union members have voted to accept the UK government’s pay offer for nurses and other NHS staff.
The union announced that 56% of its members voted to accept to offer, while 44% voted to reject it, from a 51% turnout.
The union’s ballot had been open since 3 April and closed today (28 April), and asked members to vote on whether to accept the offer, which would provide Agenda for Change staff with an additional lump sum for 2022-23, and 5% pay rise for 2023-24.
“From the government originally offering nothing, health workers will be thousands of pounds better off”
GMB had recommended that its members accept the pay offer, describing it as “the best that can be achieved through these negotiations”.
In addition, the union had warned its members that, should the deal be rejected, it would need to undertake “further, sustained” strikes with “minimal” derogations (exceptions) to try and get a better offer.
GMB national secretary Rachel Harrison praised her members who had been out on strike, and said the offer would not have been possible without industrial action.
Ms Harrison said: “Our members recognise that progress has been made – from the government originally offering nothing, health workers will be thousands of pounds better off.
“It also meets a key GMB demand of a huge pay uplift for the lowest paid, lifting them above the Real Living Wage.
“But so much more needs to be done for workers if we are all to get the NHS we need.”
Ms Harrison added: “Today is just one step in the battle to restore NHS workers’ decade of lost earnings.
“GMB will continue this fight, so that the NHS and ambulance workers, who serve and care for the public, finally get the fair deal they deserve.”
GMB joins Unison, the Royal College of Midwives and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in accepting the deal, which union leadership has conceded was not perfect, but the best they hoped to achieve.
However the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), and Unite have voted to reject the government’s pay deal and members of both unions will be going out on strike in the coming days.
Now that all of unions with a strike mandate in England have collected their ballot results, they will come together to discuss next steps at the extraordinary meeting of the NHS Staff Council on Tuesday 2 May.
It is expected that representatives from the GMB will join other unions in voting to collectively accept the offer at the NHS Staff Council meeting next week.
At the meeting, being held on 2 May, it is likely that the government will have enough union backing to get a majority at the council meeting, which means it will be able to implement the pay offer.
Separately, Great Ormond Street Hospital issued a statement earlier today airing its concerns over the latest RCN strike.
It declared a “business continuity incident” over concerns it will not be able to staff its wards properly.
This comes as the upcoming RCN strike action is set to have no derogations, meaning nurses working in mental health and urgent and emergency care will now be able to take part.
The RCN and Unite leaders have argued that their strikes are necessary to protect the NHS and to persuade the government to issue a better pay deal.
Meanwhile, the health and social care secretary, Steve Barclay, said: “Today’s decision by members of GMB to accept the pay offer, following Unison – who represent the largest share of the NHS workforce – the Royal College of Midwives and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, demonstrates it is a fair and reasonable proposal that can bring this dispute to an end.
“I’ve always said I want a fair resolution that recognises the outstanding job of NHS staff and also protects the government’s commitment to halve inflation – and I’m hopeful the NHS Staff Council accepts our offer when they meet next week.”