SoR Members in England and Wales overwhelmingly reject award

Over 90% of respondents to consultation say offer is inadequate but participation not enough to justify strike ballot

Published: 12 October 2022 Trade Union & IR

More than 9 out of ten SoR members across England and Wales who responded to September’s consultation on their NHS pay award rejected the award as inadequate.

Whilst member turnout in the consultation was not high enough to safely proceed to a formal ballot for strike action, a majority of those responding also supported participating in strike and/or action short of strike action.

Anger and frustration

“The level of anger and frustration evident amongst the radiography workforce should be of grave concern to Governments in England and Wales. They should now engage with us seriously and negotiate reforms to support long term recruitment and retention of radiographers, and other NHS staff – tangible improvements that close the value gap impacting public sector workers. The NHS and public can’t afford another under-funded, short-term award that actually makes the staffing crisis worse,” said Dean Rogers, SoR Executive Director.

The SoR is one of numerous unions already balloting members for strike action in Scotland and we will shortly begin consultation with members in Northern Ireland about the continued failure to present any offer there for 2022-23.

No formal ballot planned

Because of Government imposed legal thresholds on taking strike action, the SoR doesn’t feel it would be safe or sensible to proceed to a formal ballot in England and Wales, at this time. Fewer than 1 in 3 members who could respond did so and even in Wales, where the return was almost 1 in 4, only 28% of those eligible to participate in the consultation indicated support for strike action. Failing to meet the legal threshold with an underwhelming response to a formal postal ballot would prove counter-productive, potentially undermining action from other unions which we would want to support. A union balloting and failing to meet the legal threshold in England would strengthen the Government’s resolve not to re-open negotiations and also send negative messages ahead of the next Pay Review Body (PRB) round which starts imminently.

Dean Rogers added: “Our support and engagement with the #NHSStaff pay campaign doesn’t stop because we will not be balloting for strike action in England and Wales. We will now be holding another round of briefings and listening sessions with members and Reps. These will explore what changes to pay and reward would make a difference for members, as part of our evidence gathering for the PRB process.

Better understanding

“We will also be exploring why members didn’t participate in greater numbers in our consultation. We don’t accept this is because of apathy – it’s much more complicated than that. We know some members, for example in cancer therapy, can’t face the prospect of cancelling patients’ treatment after Covid. We also know others can’t afford to strike whilst others may have questioned the timing of action with the award already being made. We also need to better understand if members, who may not have ever experienced industrial action had enough information to know what going on strike would mean, as well as reviewing our comms strategies to maximise member engagement.

“Therefore, our consultations over the rest of 2022 will be important for us in presenting a clear alternative vision to the PRB – as well as preparing for if we are in the same position again, sooner rather than later. Unless the Governments act more positively, there is a strong likelihood we will be consulting about action again in 2023.”