LONDON, December 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The independent Pay Review Body (PRB) has 'too narrow a remit' to tackle the current pay and employment conditions in the NHS, Unite the Union has said.

Unite, the largest union in the country, was commenting after the PRB declined to recommend to Health Secretary, Alan Johnson that the 're-opener' clause be triggered on the current three-year pay deal.

Unite's National Officer for Health, Karen Reay said: 'Our members voted overwhelmingly to reject the three-year pay deal imposed by the government. The PRB report is a bitter blow and we think its remit is too narrow when looking at the overall pay and employment conditions for NHS staff.'

Unite's National Officer for Health, David Fleming said: 'It should be made clear that Unite is still in dispute with the four health departments of the UK over the pay deal which is well below the current rate of inflation and that we have a democratic mandate for industrial action up to and including strike action.'

'It is firmly in the hands of government to resolve this dispute early in 2009. We call, once more, on the government to enter into meaningful talks on the issue of a realistic pay deal for hard-working NHS staff.'

A joint meeting of Unite's Health Sector National Industrial Committee - to be attended by representatives from both the Amicus and TGWU sections - will meet on 12 January 'to agree the way forward'. Unite NHS members held a day of industrial action on 3 December over pay.

NOTES TO NEWS EDITORS: - Members voted by 76% to 23% to take part in industrial action short of a strike. There was a 53% vote in favour of strike action, with 45% against. - Unite's policy is to defend and strengthen the independence of the Pay Review Body (PRB) to arbitrate pay on an annual basis. The PRB recommended a 2.75% pay award for this year, 2008/9. The government, subsequently, imposed the three-year deal worth in total 7.99%.

For further information, please ring: Karen Reay, National Officer, Health, Unite +44(0)7798-531-004. David Fleming, National Officer, Health, Unite +44(0)7798531013. Shaun Noble, Communications Officer, +44(0)20-7420-8951 (direct line), +44(0)7768-693-940 (mobile).