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14.03.14

Unions consider strike action over pay deal

Unions representing NHS staff have stated that industrial action may be on the cards after yesterday’s decision on pay meant that around 600,000 NHS employers will receive no cost of living pay rise on 1 April.

The government has threatened to make next year’s pay award non-consolidated too (a one-off payment, not a permanent pay rise), unless the union agree to freeze incremental progression for a year in 2015/16.

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, has written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, saying it could engage in talks, while at the same time continuing to consult with its members over possible strike action over pay.

Unite head of health Rachael Maskellwrote: “We have never met such anger at a pay announcement in the NHS, and our members are clear that they want us to progress to consult over taking action against your proposals.

“Unite would agree with you that dialogue is preferable to strike action, and whilst we will continue to follow the mandate of our members to demonstrate the strength of feeling against your actions and use industrial means to change your response to the NHS Pay Review Body recommendations, we would engage in talks should they be meaningful and with the intent of progressing the pay arrangements.”

NHS staff in England are to get a pay rise this year of just 1% if they are at the top of their pay band – which means that over two-thirds of staff will miss out. The 1% will be a cash sum and not consolidated, meaning that a nurse, paramedic, occupational therapist or accounts manager with seven years' experience will receive a sum amounting to just over £5 a week, it has been calculated by Unison.

The NHS Pay Review Body said specifically that a non-consolidated pay award could have an “adverse impact on staff engagement and motivation” and recommended against it, but the government ignored this advice.

Christina McAnea, Unison’s head of health, has also accused the government of ignoring the NHS pay review body, while doing nothing to end poverty pay in the health service. It was also stated that UNISON hasn’t ruled out industrial action.

GMB also stated that its members will not “stand aside” whilst the government attacks its members’ pay and conditions. It said it will begin consulting members, who will be asked to vote in a consultative ballot to decide the next steps in this dispute.

Martin Jackson, GMB NHS Chair, said: “Many GMB members were counting on the paltry 1% to help subsidise the increase in cost of pension contributions which are to come in next month.

“Our cost of living has increased, we have had years of pay restraint and now we are told we are not even going to receive the 1% the Chancellor set out in the last budget. I have worked as a nurse for many years and GMB members up and down the country are telling me enough is enough.”

Hunt said in a statement yesterday: “It is our intention that in 2015/16 the same approach will apply and staff who are not eligible to receive incremental pay will receive a non-consolidated payment of 2% of pay, whilst other staff receive incremental progression. As this will be a two-year pay award, the NHSPRB will not be asked to make recommendations on a pay award for Agenda for Change staff in the 2015 pay round.

“NHS staff are dedicated and hard working and the government would prefer all NHS staff to receive a consolidated 1% increase. This would be affordable if incremental progression was frozen for one year in 2015/16. If the NHS trade unions were prepared to agree to this then the government would be prepared to reconsider the position and make a consolidated award as other public sector workforces are receiving.”

(Library image, copyright: Alex)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

Anon, Derby   19/03/2014 at 12:45

We have been told to only give incremental increases if they are appropriate and not reward under-performance with an incremental rise. Incremental increases are paid at different times of the year, usually the anniversary of the employees start date - how can we manage whether or not someone is going to be entitled to their increment in December until their appraisal? Do we give them the 1% as if they are not getting their increment and then take it back if they are entitled to their increment based on results? If they are entitled to their incremental rise in December they will only get 4 months worth of incremental rise in the financial year - would they be better signing to say I won't accept an increment and take the 1% for 12 months??

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