LONDON, October 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Thousands of NHS employees are being asked to take industrial action in a pay protest ballot next month by Unite, the largest union in the country.

Unite will be asking its members whether they are prepared to take industrial action, including strike action, in the ballot which commences on 28 October.

After the ballot closes on 12 November, Unite will have a 28-day 'window' to take action that its members have voted for.

Unite's ballot is underpinned by a 95% rejection by its members of the Government's unilaterally imposed three-year pay deal, worth in total 7.99% - barely half the current rate of inflation. It is further reinforced by a 75% vote in favour of an industrial action ballot.

Unite's National Officer for Health, Dave Fleming said: "Having held activist meetings throughout the UK last month, we are confident of a decisive 'Yes' vote for industrial action in protest at the Government's 'derisory' pay offer."

"There is a real danger that this government policy of falsely depressing public sector pay could continue for many years to come - we can't allow this to happen."

"Our action will not compromise the care of sick and vulnerable people. Emergency cover will be provided by Unite members at all times during any industrial action as patient and client care is paramount."

Notes to Editors:

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped to 4.7% in August - the highest level since records began in 1997. The Retail Price Index (RPI) fell slightly to 4.8%, despite surging food and energy costs - this was because the RPI takes into account a wider range of indices, including the downward pressure on house prices. The 2.75% being paid to NHS members this year is, therefore, a pay cut.

For further information, please contact: Karen Reay, National Officer, Health, Unite, +44-7798-531-004. David Fleming, National Officer, Health, Unite, +44-7798-531013. Shaun Noble, Communications Officer, +44-207-420-8951 (direct line), +44-7768-693-940 (mobile)