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

Monday, 17 March 2014

A pitiful pay rise will not save one job in the NHS

At Saturday's Liverpool march and rally against austerity, Jean Blevin, chair of North West UNISON's regional health committee, gave a rousing call for action on NHS pay in to last week's unprecedented announcement that the Government would refuse to implement the 2014/15 pay award recommended by the NHS Pay Review Board. Read on for her speech.

'Thank you for allowing me to speak at this great rally in defence of public services. My name is Jean Blevin, and I am the chair of UNISON North West regional health care committee. I also am a health worker from the Walton Institute.

I bring greetings and best wishes from the 60,000 UNISON members who daily, 24 hours, 52 weeks and 365 days deliver high quality essential health services to our communities across the region. they continue to deliver this service despite the huge attacks on the NHS from this Con-Dem Government.

Colleagues, we all know that these cuts in public service are politically motivated and have little to do with the recession. austerity is merely a cloak to mask the real agenda which is to reduce the public service and open the profitable parts to the Tories friends in the multi national corporations.

On Thursday we had the announcement from Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary that health workers were once again going to be the victims of the governments financial cuts. Pay in the NHS is determined by the Pay Review Body. This so called independent body, which in recent years has merely kowtowed to the government, recommended a pay rise of 1% on all pay points. This in itself is a disgraceful recommendation. Again it would mean a significant pay cut to the thousands of NHS workers. With inflation running at over 2% and in real terms significantly higher a 1% rise will do nothing to address the years of erosion of the value of NHS wages. since 2010 the real value of NHS workers pay has fallen between 10% and 16%.

But Hunt wasn’t even prepared to accept the miserable recommendation of the PRB. He decided to stick the knife in and cut the pay further. The government has now declared that only those at the top of their grade will get 1% and to rub salt into the wound this 1% will not be consolidated so therefore not pensionable or included in unsocial hours and overtime payments. For those not at the top of their grade will get nothing.

Hunt's logic is that staff getting an increment get a pay rise. this is a lie and a deliberate misrepresentation of the NHS pay system. each job in the NHS is assigned a pay band. This band should be established through a job evaluation exercise. The reason for incremental progression through the band is to allow the individual to grow into the role. But we all know that most staff take full responsibility for their post before they reach the top of the band.

What this means is that they are underpaid until they get to the top. The employer makes a saving until they are required to pay the actual rate for the job. therefore staff still making their way through the grade will be doubly hit by this decision.

And in some trusts stringent hurdles have been put in the way of obtaining the increment that some staff will not get their increment nor will they receive a pay rise.

This is disgraceful and NHS staff are right to be angry. There needs to be a reaction and we need the support of our communities. If the pay of NHS workers is allowed to be eroded further then there will be an impact on quality of care. Staff will leave the service and recruitment will become very difficult.

Finally I want to nail the lie being peddled by David Cameron. Having a pitiful pay rise will not save one job in the NHS. Already we have lost thousands and thousands of jobs in the service. Every week UNISON receives notices from employers that they intend to make redundancies at their organisation.

NHS staff deserve a decent pay rise, all public sector workers deserve a pay rise. Now is the time to fight back. Now is the time to stand up for NHS and all public sector workers.'