UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

A declaration of war on NHS workers

#NHSPay We have just had the announcement that the government has rejected the PRB’s recommendation that staff in the NHS should receive a 1% up lift on all pay points. The PRB’s recommendation is itself pathetic and amounts to a further erosion of NHS workers’ pay. But the government has even undermined this miserable recommendation by announcing that only those staff at the top of their grades will receive 1%, and even then this will be unconsolidated which means it does not get added to the hourly rate and nor will be included on unsocial hours payments, nor is it pensionable. Those staff still making their way up the pay bands will receive nothing. In addition the government has said if the trade unions do not agree to changes to incremental progression and other terms and conditions then the 2015 pay settlement will be the same as this year's.

It is time to nail the government's false propaganda around incremental progression. The reason increments are within each pay band is to allow for staff to develop into their role. We all know that most staff operate at the full level of responsibility before reaching the top of their grade. In other words employers get away without paying the full rate for the job for a number of years.

Today’s announcement is tantamount to declaring war on NHS workers. Cameron said the economy is not out of the woods and that the pay award will save jobs. Tell that to the thousands of health workers who have lost their jobs since the Tory led coalition came to power. This pay cut will not save one NHS worker.

It is time to make decent pay the top of the union campaign on behalf of our members. If this erosion of NHS Staff pay is allowed to continue the whole service will suffer. Despite the government’s media campaign against NHS staff, the general public know and respect the work of the vast majority of dedicated hard working staff. We need to mobilise public opinion to fight this attack on the living standards of the people delivering essential services to the most vulnerable in society.

Meanwhile the Scottish Government says it will honour the full PRB recommendation as well as making the living wage the entry point for NHS workers. Although an improvement on the UK governments position it is still an unacceptable response to years of pay freezes and under inflation pay awards. Shamefully, the Labour led Welsh Government has said it will operate exactly within the limits which the Con Dem Government is applying in England.

Now is the time to react. Trade unions need to show bold leadership, we need to give voice to our members. Local campaigning is essential to ensuring member and public support.

This government can afford a significant pay rise for health workers. It chooses not to and this is purely a political and not an economic decision.