25/03/2018 - Health pay deal: press for ballots and vote to reject

nhs1Over a million health workers in England would get a 6.5 percent pay rise over three years - 3 percent in 2018-19, then 1.7 percent in both of the following years. They would also get a 1.1 percent lump sum in the second year.

Some at the very bottom of the pay scale would get a higher increase.

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison has said NHS staff will be paid “at least as much” as those in England.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Unite, welcomed the deal as an end to the 1% pay cap and a boost to efforts to tackle widespread and worsening understaffing.

“The agreement means an end at last to the government’s self-defeating and unfair 1% pay cap, said Sara Gorton, Unison’s head of health, who has been the unions’ chief negotiator in talks with ministers and NHS Employers over the last five months. “It won’t solve every problem in the NHS, but would go a long way towards making dedicated health staff feel more valued, lift flagging morale and help turn the tide on employers’ staffing problems.”

It's the view of Solidarity, however, that the deal, despite the hype, represents a real terms pay cut, and tries to sneak productivity-linked pay in through the back door.

It's true that the Tories have been forced to offer more than in the previous seven years—but it’s not nearly enough and some features of the proposed deal are worse than at present.

With the RPI rate of inflation running at 3.6 percent, the proposals still represent a real terms pay cut. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that inflation will increase by 9.6 percent during the next three years.

It's our view that it could be more than that.

The deal does nothing to claw back the 14 percent pay cut that health workers have suffered since the Tories came to office in 2010.

There is also devil in the detail around overhauling pay increments. Thousands could lose out.

Each pay band within the NHS’s Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system is subdivided into increments. Health workers move up automatically from one to the next annually until they reach the top of their band.

Moving up the increments generates a pay increase on top of the nationally agreed deal.

This is how many health workers have survived under the Tories’ pay restraint - although around half of NHS workers have reached the top of their band and receive no further increments.

The deal would see fewer increments and progression would not be annual, meaning it would take longer to reach the top of a pay band.

It would also give power to bad mangers to discriminate against those who are “difficult”, unpopular or union activists.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton, rightly said, “All affected members will have a chance to have their say on NHS pay and to have a vote.”

The consultation will begin in mid-April. Solidarity urges our brothers and sisters in Unison and the 13 other unions whose leadership are in favour (including our members who hold joint membership) to press for ballots and reject the deal.

The GMB union is the only union that has called on members to reject the “jam tomorrow” pay offer. They said in a Tweet: "The deal would mean a real terms pay cut for the most loyal, longest-serving NHS workers. Since 2010 paramedics have lost on ave £14,000, midwives £18,000 & staff nurses £14,500 Enough is enough: we can't recommend any more cuts"


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