NHS physiotherapy staff in England and Wales have voted to take strike action in their first ever ballot on pay and retention issues.
Demonstrating the clear strength of feeling among CSP's NHS-employed members:
- 84 per cent of cast votes across England and Wales voted in favour of strike action (84 per cent in England; 89 per cent in Wales)
- 93 per cent of cast votes were in favour of actions short of strike (ASOS) – which could see members working strictly to contract (92 per cent in England; 94 per cent in Wales)
- Turnout was 54 per cent (53 per cent in England; 63 per cent in Wales).
The double legal thresholds imposed by the 2016 trade union laws – outlined below – mean that physiotherapy staff in 112 organisations in England and in every Health Board in Wales now have a strike mandate and will begin the process of planning for industrial action in the early new year. 124 employers in England – and eight in Wales – have a mandate for action short of strike.
The CSP continues to encourage governments in England and Wales to prioritise paying NHS staff a decent wage with improved working conditions, to ensure a fair outcome for all of our members across the UK.
Following the postal ballot, the CSP now has a six-month mandate for industrial action within those employers that meet all legal thresholds. The decision about whether and where action will be taken, will be made by CSP Council.
Like our recent vote in Scotland, this process was run on a 'dissaggregated' basis – with each employer counted as a separate ballot. In order for industrial action to be lawful, two thresholds must be met:
- At least 50 per cent of those eligible to vote must do so; and
- In England, those voting in favour of industrial action must be at least 40 per cent of all those eligible to vote.
These thresholds are additional to the requirement that more than half of cast votes must be in favour of industrial action. Despite these impositions – which are unseen in any parliamentary election, nor the leadership elections on any major political party – 63 per cent of members in-scope of our ballot across England and Wales work for employers where there is now a strike mandate.
A resounding message from members
Responding to the results, Jill Taylor – specialist NHS physiotherapist and chair of CSP Employment Committee – said: 'Our members have spoken resoundingly. We have never balloted over pay but physiotherapy staff are now left with no choice. We are short-staffed, overworked, exhausted.
'Delivering excellent care for our patients is our highest priority – and to do this we need more staff. We need to attract people to the NHS and we need to keep people in the NHS. We simply cannot do this until the government gives NHS staff a fairer pay award.'
Claire Sullivan, director of employer relations and union services at the CSP, said: 'There is not a single physiotherapist or support worker who wants to strike. NHS staff want to be at work, treating, rehabilitating, caring for their patients but the current staff shortages across the NHS are making this more difficult every day. This workforce crisis simply cannot be solved without better pay.
'Our members have now delivered compelling support for industrial action in support of fairer pay. In any industrial action we will always ensure the safety of patients is safeguarded – but NHS strikes remain entirely avoidable. Once again, I urge the government to respond to our repeated health union calls for immediate pay talks for the NHS.'
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