NHS workers crippled by poor pay warned the government today that there would be massive industrial unrest if it continues with a wage freeze.
Their union Unison submitted evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) highlighting the huge gap between wage growth and inflation opened up by the government's two-year pay freeze along with planned increases of just 1 per cent a year from next April.
It is urging the NHS PRB to support the national pay system laid out under Agenda for Change or risk action from hundreds of thousands of health workers across England over the coming year.
Unison has accused the government of undermining the independence of the board by imposing the 1 per cent pay increase that it argued will see inflation stripping between 8 and 12 per cent off the value of wages by 2013.
The union predicted that increased pension contributions were also likely to lead to a further reduction in take-home pay of up to 6 per cent by 2015.
"NHS staff are being hit from all sides," said Unison head of health Christina McAnea.
"There are massive cuts to services and to jobs despite the fact that demands on the NHS are growing year by year.
"Inflation is taking a heavy toll on staff and their families who have not had a pay rise for two years while inflation is taking chunks out of their pay.
"We are urging the PRB to recognise the long-term damage that the coalition's pay policy is inflicting on the NHS."
She also pointed to additional pressure on NHS staff from trusts, such as the 20 involved in the south-west pay cartel, which are also cutting existing terms and conditions of staff in a bid to meet the government's demand for huge savings across the health service by 2015.
Further statistics revealed that the NHS non-medical workforce shrank by 2.1 per cent over 2010/11, with thousands suffering redundancy and estimates putting expected job losses at around 50,000.
But while thousands of workers have lost their jobs Unison warned that demand for services was on the rise across most of the NHS, a trend which is undermining quality of care and increasing stress across the workforce.
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