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Health workers vote on pay strike

Health workers have started voting on whether to take industrial action in a bitter row with the Government over pay.

Hundreds of thousands of workers are being balloted after the Coalition controversially decided not to accept a recommended 1% pay rise.

Members of the Unite union started voting today, while Unison and the GMB will send ballot papers out in the coming days.

The result is due at the end of September, threatening industrial action in October.

Council workers are due to strike on October 14 in a separate row over pay, while the TUC is staging a national demonstration on October 18 to highlight the impact of the Government's spending cuts.

Unite said it is estimated that the 1.3 million workers in the NHS have seen their pay fall by up to 15% in real terms since the Coalition came to power in May 2010.

Head of health Rachael Maskell said: "Never have our members expressed such anger as they have on the pay issue. Jeremy Hunt (Health Secretary) has treated these hard-working health professionals with contempt.

"Our members have an opportunity from today to vote in favour of industrial action and send a stark message that the Health Secretary should sit down with the unions and listen to our proposals for fair pay for the biggest workforce in the UK.

"We are confident of a positive result from our members, but we also wish to reassure the public that any industrial action will be carefully calibrated to balance the anger that our members feel about their shrinking pay packets with abiding concern for patient care, which is key for the health professionals we represent."

The ballot covers health workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as the devolved government in Scotland has agreed to pay the 1% recommended by the Pay Review Body as well as giving extra to low-paid workers.

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