Proper pay talks are the solution to disputes, not penalties for staff

Ministers should focus on rebuilding industrial relations, rather than picking fights

Responding to the government announcement today (Thursday) about proposed legislation that could penalise public sector workers for taking strike action, UNISON assistant general secretary Jon Richards said:

“Ministers should focus their time and energy on rebuilding trust and relationships with workers, not silencing and suppressing them.

“Minimum staffing levels in the NHS would be welcome by the public and health staff every single day of the week. That could avoid people being left lying in agony on A&E floors or dying in the backs of ambulances.

“The NHS is on its knees because of record vacancies. The idea of limiting legal staffing levels to strike days and threatening to sack or fine health workers at such a time shows proper patient care isn’t ministers’ priority.

“The government is picking ill-advised fights with NHS employees and unions to mask years of dismal failure to tackle pay and staffing.

“There’s a much simpler way for Rishi Sunak to put a swift end to strikes in the NHS and other sectors. That’s to allow his ministers to begin direct pay negotiations immediately to boost wages, retain experienced staff and improve patient care.

“The Prime Minister’s spoken of dialogue with unions. But talks must be about pay itself, not how the pay review body process works.

“UNISON will be examining these proposals and considering how to respond, including any appropriate legal challenge.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contact:
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E:
Fatima Ayad M: 07508 080383 E: