Union action wins pay rise for a million NHS staff

Submitted by sglenister on Fri, 08/06/2018 - 16:02

08 June 2018

Negotiation by 14 unions led by Unison has resulted in at least a 6.5% pay rise for a million NHS staff across England, with a larger increase for workers on the lowest wages.

Cleaners, nurses, security guards, physiotherapists, emergency call handlers, paramedics, midwives, radiographers and others will benefit from the pay bump, which most union members voted to accept.

The three-year deal has been made possible by an extra £4.2 billion of NHS funding and it means that every NHS worker will now be paid above the Real Living Wage, with the negotiations having set a new £8.93 an hour minimum. Staff on the lowest pay, including caterers, porters and administrators, will see an increase of more than £2,000 a year (an 11-13% rise).

This is the first above-inflation rise NHS workers have seen in seven years, since the 1% public sector cap on pay rises was brought in by the Conservative government. Over that time, workers' wages have been falling in value, with paramedics losing an average of £14,000, midwives £18,000 and staff nurses £14,500.

Sara Gorton, Unison head of health, admitted that the new deal "will not solve all the NHS' problems", but it "will come as a huge relief for all the mployers who've struggled for so long to attract new recruits and hold onto experienced staff".

It will also "go a long way towards easing the financial strain suffered by health staff and their families over many years", she added.

Josie Irwin, associate director of employment relations at the Royal College of Nursing, also welcomed the rise. "Today’s deal gives a much-needed pay rise to over a million people and, at a time when there are 40,000 unfilled nurse jobs in England alone, it should help to make the profession more attractive to current and future nurses alike," she said.

"By standing together, the NHS unions were able to reject all unpalatable demands to cut annual leave or unsocial hours payments and get the best possible deal from a government still committed to austerity," she added.

However, she warned the government that they "would be mistaken if it thought today's deal was the end, rather than the beginning", explaining "there is much more to achieve".

This is a sentiment with which GMB members would certainly agree, as they overwhelmingly rejected the pay deal as too weak considering how long healthcare staff have been losing money.

"The offer won't allow them to claw any of that cash back – in fact, for longer serving, most loyal NHS workers the 6.5% increase over three years actually means a real terms pay cut, doesn’t put things right and continues to punish those who have endured the pinch on pay," Kevin Brandstatter, GMB National Officer, explained.

"It does nothing to address the recruitment and retention crisis and it leaves the door open to new employees in the NHS being employed on worse terms and conditions than existing health service workers," he added.

"After a nearly a decade of pay pinching, the prospect of a further three years of cuts to wages is unacceptable," General Secretary of GMB, Tim Roache, commented.

"GMB members have sent a clear message to Jeremy Hunt – it's a no from us."

The unions involved in the negotiations were the British Association of Occupational Therapists, the British Dietetic Association, the British Orthoptic Society, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, the Federation of Clinical Scientists, Managers in Partnership, POA, the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Nursing, the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, the Society of Radiographers, UNISON, Unite and GMB.

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