A new phase in the fight for fair pay

Resounding mandate from members for industrial action puts the fight for fair pay central to the workforce crisis, says Elaine Sparkes

Elaine Sparkes
Assistant director of employment relations and union services, Elaine Sparkes

In recent weeks, CSP members across England and Wales have voted resoundingly for industrial action. The strength of feeling was clearly demonstrated by a mandate for strike action being achieved across 112 employers in England and in every health board in Wales.

The final decision about whether and where any action will be taken will be made by the CSP Council and we will, of course, keep members updated.

We know that a mandate for industrial action can provide real leverage to secure better pay for members. In Scotland, where members voted overwhelming for industrial action for the first time, this mandate enabled the CSP – working with other health unions – to secure an improved pay offer from the Scottish government.

In England and Wales, too, we will continue to press the government for meaningful talks on NHS pay which, at the time of writing, remain in the distance. We will use the mandate we have to demonstrate to the government the strength of feeling among members for action on pay and working conditions, in particular a lack of staff which is causing real issues for our members and services, day in, day out.

We know that this workforce crisis is piling on pressure for physiotherapy staff in the NHS, leading to overwork and exhaustion and, in turn, causing more staff to look at other options, piling pressure on those remaining.

Fair pay is vital if we’re to begin solving the long-term workforce crisis which is engulfing the NHS. It would enable the health service to retain physio staff, as well as attracting those aspiring to join the profession. That is why we’re also asking the government to offer physiotherapy students an NHS contract when they graduate.

We know that industrial action is a last resort and that patients will always be at the forefront of everything members do. But we also know that our members feel undervalued and are increasingly frustrated and exhausted when they are unable to deliver the services at the level that is needed due to the recruitment and retention crisis. 

Elaine Sparkes is assistant director of employment relations and union services at the CSP

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