SoR answers all your questions on the England pay ballot

FAQs give SoR members the information they need for the upcoming ballot on industrial action

Published: 05 May 2023 Trade Union & IR

The SoR has published a list of key questions and answers to help members in England navigate the voting system for the forthcoming ballot on industrial action.

SoR members overwhelmingly rejected the offer in a consultative ballot and strongly signalled they wanted to be formally balloted for industrial action.

The turnout was the highest ever in an indicative ballot conducted by SoR on pay and shows the strength of feeling amongst the SoR membership. UK Council ratified the decision to move to a formal industrial ballot and SoR leaders are organising this to begin in early June.

The offer includes a one-off payment, itself made up of two elements for 2022-23: A 2 per cent award for all staff plus an additional Covid recovery bonus, equivalent to 4 per cent of the pay bill. This first part is subject to tax and national insurance but is non-pensionable.

There is also a consolidated pay rise of 5 per cent for all grades of AfC staff for 2023-24 plus an additional payment to support the lowest band to bring them in line with the national Living Wage.

Ballot FAQs

  • 1. Why are we balloting members for strike action in England?

    The SoR are balloting members in England for strike action. We had an overwhelming response to the indicative ballot with 66% of members responding and 80% of members rejecting the NHS England pay offer and 83% stating they were prepared to be balloted for strike action. We are a member led organisation and we intend to listen to our members and take a ballot forward.

  • 2. When do we intend to ballot members?

    Members should receive their ballot papers which will be in a yellow envelope with the SoR logo sometime around the 7th of June. The ballot will run until 5pm on 28th June.

  • 3. What will be on the ballot paper?

    The ballot paper will contain one question, whether you are prepared to take industrial strike action or not. It will also confirm the date and time you must return your ballot paper for it to be counted.

    In addition, it will also contain a standard required paragraph confirming that, while strike action can amount to a breach of contract, if an employee is dismissed for taking part in strike action, that dismissal will be unfair if it takes place within 12 weeks of the start of any action and could also be unfair if it takes place after that point. This is a legal requirement to try to frighten members away from defending their standard of living.

  • 4. How is SoR recommending members to vote in the ballot?

    We are recommending all our members vote yes and support strike action.

  • 5. Who can vote in the postal ballot?

    We can only ballot members who we can call to take industrial action. We intend to ballot all our members working in the NHS in England that have a contract under agenda for change terms and conditions. You will only be balloted for your primary place of employment. If you have a secondary employment contract you will not be balloted for that employer or be able to take industrial action, there. This is to lessen the risk of any legal challenge by employers. Apprentices will be included in the ballot.

    Students, agency staff members who work outside the NHS or who are not currently employed will not be included.

  • 6. What type of ballot are we running?

    We intend to organise a disaggregated ballot that means that we will be running separate ballots for each trust. These will be run at the same time. The reason for this is to try to ensure that we can meet the legal thresholds and conduct a national strike more effectively. If there are trusts that do not meet the thresholds, we can decide to re-ballot those affected.

  • 7. I work on the bank. Can I vote?

    Yes, if you are a SoR member, and this is your primary employment in the  NHS  on Agenda for Change terms and conditions.

  • 8. Is my vote anonymous?

    Yes, your vote is anonymous and secret. The ballot is run by Engage UK, which is an independent organisation and has a legal duty to keep the voting anonymous and secret. Neither your employer nor the SoR will know how you vote.

  • 9. What happens if I don’t respond?

    If we get a very low turnout, the government and employers will assume that there is not much interest in taking this dispute further, so please make sure you use your vote to send a strong message that our members deserve fair pay and a better deal.

    In England for any industrial action to take place, there are two thresholds that must be met: at least 50 per cent of those eligible to vote must have voted, and at least 40 per cent of the total eligible to have voted must have voted for industrial action.

    If you do not respond it is counted as a vote against industrial action.

  • 10. What if I vote ‘no’ but the overall result of the vote is ‘yes’? And what if I vote ‘yes’ but then change my mind?

    The decision about whether members will be called to take industrial action will be based on how the majority of members vote in the ballot. If the majority of SoR members have voted democratically to undertake industrial action, we hope that all members will support that majority decision and take part in the action.

  • 11. If we vote ‘yes’, will we definitely achieve an improved pay offer?

    We cannot make any guarantees about the final outcome and whether there will be an improved offer. Our members voted overwhelmingly in the consultative survey to be balloted for action and we intend to listen to our members.

    What we do know is that without any action there will definitely be no improved offer.

    We want a better offer for our members that includes more pay and elements that will improve recruitment and retention of the workforce. We also want a commitment from the government regarding pay restoration.

    Industrial action is always the last resort, and we will continue to try to reach agreement through negotiation, but we do think the government and employers need to understand how serious this is and that even though a majority of unions accepted the offer we do not believe it is fair and generous or will do anything to entice people into the Radiography profession. There is a workforce crisis in Radiography and the government need to address this, pay is part of the solution.

  • 12. What should I do now?

    Make sure you check and update your membership details this will include address, primary workplace, email, and mobile number. It is important that all details are correct by the 8th May to ensure you will be included in the ballot.

    Start the conversation in your departments about the fact that SoR are balloting members on Pay. Try to organise non-members to join the SoR. Watch out for the yellow envelope coming through the door with your ballot papers and return it immediately with a vote for yes for strike action.

  • 13. I am a Radiography support worker, will I be included in the ballot?

    All SoR members that have a primary NHS contract under agenda for change terms and conditions will be included in the formal ballot for pay in England. This includes members that are Radiography support workers, assistant practitioners, Radiography administration workers, apprentices etc.

    We want to ensure that members who are support workers know they are as important in the fight for better pay and conditions. They are crucial for the delivery for effective radiography services.

    It is vital that they return their ballot forms and respond to any calls to action from the SoR. The fight for better pay is a collective one.