Commenting on tomorrow’s (24 November 2014) four-hour NHS staff strike, Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Dr Eamonn Butler, said:
The decision to hold a second strike over pay is a serious misjudgment on the part of the unions that have decided to join in. Average pay in the UK grew just 0.1% last year, and many businesses are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. But NHS pay has been rising since 2012.
55% of NHS staff already get an annual 3% rise: so the government is saying that any extra cash for wages should go to the workers who do not get this. So it is proposing a 1% rise for the others, but not an extra 1% on top of the existing 3% increments.
Extending the 1% rise to all NHS workers is estimated to cost around £300 million. Some 75% of hospitals' budgets is staff costs, so the extra cost that the union proposals would impose on them would mean cutbacks in staff – some 4,000 nurses lost this year, and another 10,000 next year.
The UK has economic growth of 3% but it is still fragile, and there are lots of things that could still spell disaster; and the British government is 1.45trillion in debt, and adding to that debt by another £100 billion a year. This just is not the right time for another pay claim. And certainly not for another Winter of Discontent (with images of ambulance crews dropping ‘non-emergency’ cases off in the snow to find their way home).
Notes to editors:
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The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.