Being very busy and having writer’s block mean I can but pinch a story from The News Line, the internet daily of the WRP.
This story however is significant to people interested in ensuring: a) that working people do not bear the brunt of inflation through so-called wage restraint, and b) that England has national political representation and public services.
NHS PAY OFFER – Looks to divide and rule
‘I will be recommending members reject the new pay offer,’ UNISON Oxfordshire health branch chairman Mark Ladbrooke told News Line yesterday.
He was commenting on the just-announced upcoming national ballot of UNISON’s 450,000 health worker members on a new NHS pay increase offer of 2.5 per cent, plus minor fringe benefits for some, still staged in England.
Ladbrooke added: ‘It is an extremely disappointing offer which is little different from the offer that was soundly rejected in the consultative ballot.
‘It is quite complex and the £400 headline figure won’t be paid to one single health worker.
‘Because of the staging, the value of the £400 will be greatly reduced.’
All Trades Unions Alliance Secretary Dave Wiltshire commented: ‘This is just the government, helped by the union leaders, trying to divide and rule over the public sector.
‘There have been no real concessions on wages. The offer is divisive and still equals a wage cut with inflation at 4.8 per cent.
‘They are trying to prevent the formation of a public sector alliance, that will bring out the whole of the public sector to smash the wage cutting and the jobs axing and defeat the Brown government.’
Birmingham Hospitals UNISON branch secretary Chris Rickards said: ‘I still have to study the details but it doesn’t look very good.’
UNISON yesterday said the offer is ‘the best that can be achieved’.
A UNISON statement said: ‘The new package gives extra help to the low paid and, for staff in England where the pay offer remains staged, additional money targeted at training plus a £38 contribution towards professional fees.
‘There is also a commitment to review future pay and conditions.’
Mike Jackson, UNISON lead negotiator, said: ‘At last we have an improved offer to put to members.
‘The package on offer is a complex one and will mean different things to different NHS staff depending on where they live.’
He admitted: ‘This is still a below inflation deal for most.’
He added: ‘But it is the best offer we are likely to achieve through negotiations and we will be balloting our members over whether they wish to accept it.’
An individual postal ballot of all NHS UNISON members will be held between 20th August and the 13th September 2007 on whether to accept the offer.
UNISON said details of the offer include:
l From 1st November, extra money for the lowest paid. £400 flat rate increase for those on Bands 1 and 2. Those on Bands 3 and 4 will receive an additional £38 as well as the 2.5 per cent. This will be payable in all four UK countries.
l In England only, there will be additional money for staff training targeted directly on those non-clinical staff who often lose out when training budgets are cut.
l In England only, there will be £38 paid to staff on Bands 5, 6, 7 and 8(a) who are required to register to practice. This money is a contribution to their professional fees.
‘In addition to the improved pay offer for this year, unions, employers and governments have agreed to enter into talks prior to the next pay round, to consider improvements to the Agenda for Change pay structure and its terms and conditions.’
Jackson said: ‘This will provide an opportunity for UNISON to pursue long-standing policies such as a reduction in the working week and the abolition of Band 1.’
Dr Peter Carter, General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said: ‘Our ballot of RCN members in England on whether they wish to move forward with a formal vote on industrial action over pay closes on Monday.
‘This offer does not give nurses all that we asked for but it could well be the means to resolve the current dispute and allow us to make progress on a range of workplace and professional issues.
‘The offer will now be considered by the RCN’s ruling council alongside the results of our industrial action ballot.’