Members of Unite, the UK's largest trade union and third largest in the NHS, have overwhelmingly voted to reject the government's 7.99% three-year pay deal and have voted for a ballot on industrial action.
Not long after the rejection of a pay deal by NHS workers in the GMB, 94.8% of Unite's health sector workers - including health visitors, hospital pharmacists, health care chaplains and members in many other health care professions and support services voted to turn down the three year offer worth less than 8%.
Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: "This overwhelming vote sends a clear message. Our members are angry and frustrated that they are being asked by the government to accept this woefully inadequate three year pay deal."
The government is using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to measure inflation, which does not take into account the rise in house prices and, as such, the unions argue that the Retail Price Index (RPI), which does take house prices into account, is a more appropriate measure that wages should be measured against.
Unite is concerned that this current pay offer will damage NHS morale, recruitment and retention. Unite also rejects the idea that public sector worker wages are the cause of inflation.
Unite health sector national officer Karen Reay said: "Our members in the health sector and right across public services are dedicated and hard working. Gordon Brown's government say it is listening and this unprecedented call for a ballot for strike action must be heard. Our members must not be forced to take the blame for inflation. Services will suffer and demoralisation will result in an inability to recruit and retain essential NHS staff."
Unite's 12,000 ancillary and ambulance staff also rejected the pay deal in a separate ballot last month.