Unsocial hours payments: our position is clear

Government warned: ‘if you come for them, we will take industrial action’

“They’ll come for us next,” said one delegate at UNISON’s health conference in Brighton this afternoon, concerned that if the government succeeds in imposing a new contract on junior doctors, it will come for members’ unsocial hours payments.

Nigel Harris agreed, saying: “They’ve gone for the doctors’ unsocial hours, and when they’ve done that they’re going to come for the rest of the public sector.”

Frances Little recalled job hunting as a single parent several years ago and being forced to turn down a good job that required her to work every Saturday – but didn’t pay enough for her to cover the higher childcare costs this would bring.

With the emphasis on seven-day working and the threat to unsocial hours payments she asked: “How will staff be able to pay enhanced costs without enhanced pay?”

Service group executive speaker James Anthony pointed out that when we talk about unsocial hours payments, we’re talking about “the right to have a weekend with your family.

“Weekends are important for us: it was trade unions, our forefathers, who won us the right to weekends.”

The union’s position on the issue was clear, and always had been, he said.

UNISON had presented evidence to the Pay Review Body showing that unsocial hours payments were there to help deliver a seven-day service.

As health workers often have to work around the clock, “you should be compensated for that through unsocial hours payments.

“And if they come for them, we will take industrial action.”