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Unions launch fightback over 'unfair' NHS pay rise

The “outrageous and unfair decision” not to implement a 1% pay rise for all NHS staff working in England should be reconsidered, leading nurses have said.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has launched its What If? campaign against the government’s decision not to accept a pay review body (PRB) recommendation for a 1% increase for health staff.

The 1% will only be given to employees not entitled to an incremental pay increase, which unions have estimated will leave 70% of nurses facing a wage freeze this year.

A spokesman said that its members will be joining with health workers from other unions in a day of action across England on June 5.

The RCN’s new webpage for the campaign states: “We’re fighting for fair pay. We want to reverse the government’s outrageous and unfair decision - everyone deserves the 1% pay rise.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, added: “No-one is denying that times have been tough and that difficult decisions need to be made, however nurses have already done their bit.

“They’ve cared for record numbers of patients through the most disruptive reorganisation in the history of the NHS and in the face of huge workforce cuts. They deserve to be valued and appreciated and this paltry increase, which most of them won’t even see, sends a very different message.

“What if? is there to give nursing staff a voice and the RCN will be campaigning to ensure that the government listens and does the decent and honourable thing by giving nursing staff the pay rise they deserve.”

Meanwhile Unite, which represents more than 100,000 workers in the NHS, said it had a “very strong mandate” from its members to campaign for fair pay, including taking industrial action if there was no progress.

The union threatened to make the NHS a central issue of next year’s general election if the government did not change its position.

Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “It is time that health secretary Jeremy Hunt sat down with the unions and listened to our proposals for fair pay for the biggest workforce in this country.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “NHS staff are our greatest asset. We cannot afford a pay rise on top of incremental pay increases of up to 6% without risking frontline jobs and safe staffing levels.

“We are disappointed that the unions rejected our offer to discuss any alternative proposals on pay, within an available budget of nearly £1bn. However, our door remains open if they wish to reconsider their position.”

Readers' comments (22)

  • dont hold your breath with this scumbag govt...they dont give a fig about nurse's

    they know that increments are for time and expirence in the job but will tell the general public its another pay rise (if they dont want incremental pay then pay us all the top of the band then..that is what the value of the job is!!)

    they are ok though with their 11% rise

    remember "were all in it together"!!

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  • We pay more towards our pensions and get no pay increases, and inflation is 3% per annum. So am I earning 15% less now, this three years later? Ridiculous. They should be managing health tourism etc as opposed to throwing parties and inviting all, when we are in a recession. We have to give to others so that we get less and give to others so that we all retire at 101? The pool is just too big now.What about providing a safe service in terms of quality. Health budgets should have been ring fenced. It was not and it just shows where their priorities lie. Making savings by just reducing staff numbers and denying people increases (who do more now than ever before / who have to pay for their own training on a few occasions) is not the answer.

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  • Absolutley criminal that Nurses are not awarded a pay rise to reflect the excellent and dedicated work they do. Its shameful. Appalling that these angels have to endure a hard life financially by doing a job that they love. It takes special people to become nurses and they should be rewarded.

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  • The simple fact is that increments were introduced so that they could pay new people lower rates on the basis that they wouldn't be efficient at their job. Nowadays the increment is being treated as a privilege for experience. It seems that they want the bottom of the scale to be seen as the standard rate of pay rather than the top, once more eroding peoples pay. I think many people miss this point altogether and are already brainwashed.

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  • tinkerbell

    Do you think this so called ' government' gives a hoot about what we think. Their message is very clear 'up yours'. Take it or leave it. The only way to deal with their bullying strategy is to take action. We'd prefer not to but as Tony Benn said 'every generation has to fight for their democracy'. If we want to be treated fairly we have to make that decision for the sake of everyone and not just ourselves and our pay.

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  • Sad to say that Governemnt's world wide will not pay nurses what they are worth until they realise they need one...then it maybe to late.

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  • see lots of comments don't see many saying they are going to do in the 5th. Get out there and support the day of action. If you just want winge, I for one don't want to hear you. I you are going to support the day of action tell everyone what you are doing on the 5th. Come on no more talk and more action

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  • It is quite amazing that all the political parties go on about how wonderful the NHS is ! but what do they do to show this in real terms not a lot !, it is also very sad that our prime minister has had first hand experience with the services of the NHS and even he is unable to speak up and say well actually they all deserve the 1% rise , even though it is not in line with inflation we need to show how much they are valued and as a profession we do not go on strike we all go to our place of work during a major incident if needed stay at work after our shift is finished if staffing levels require it deal with whatever situation we are faced with this is all fogotten convieniently by politicians . We can also think back to the bombing at the Brighton Conservative conference some years ago and it was the NHS at the coal face and did their jobs as always the Tories have very short memories . We are having to go abroad to recruit nurses what does that tell us that our young people do not want to enter the profession well i wonder why ? Yes we do need to tackle health tourism more robustly within the NHS but once again no one wants to address it because !!!!! it's not seen as politically correct and whose job is it ?

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  • Industrial action is LONG overdue. Time to stop tolerating systematic occupational abuse.

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  • After our last elections one can see evidence of the British public wanting more plain talk that makes sense.
    The trouble is nurses are most times their worse enemies for not speaking up.

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  • In Plymouth we still haven't received our paltry 1percent so they are probably trying to find a way to get out of paying it!

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  • the unions have ruined and killed the NHS stone dead along with the quality of patient care in an evolving and highly stimulating learning environment dedicated to caring professionals which was at one time so full of promise for the future of our patients. all that is left in its place are those who are interested in their own ends and using others and the organisation and its patients and their colleagues as their means and then blame politicians and others when they don't get what they want. why ever have they been allowed to do this?

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  • A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “NHS staff are our greatest asset. We cannot afford a pay rise on top of incremental pay increases of up to 6% without risking frontline jobs and safe staffing levels.

    What a load of c***! Yes, the NHS is a service industry, and people are its greatest asset - we are in agreement there DOH. So, why are you treating your assets with such total contempt?? Who is this spokeswoman, is she willing to identify herself? I think not.

    Sadly, unless nurses vote for strike action in the forthcoming ballot, and then actually carry it out, there will never be any change. They will know that we are weak, and they can continue to kick us. One decent strike and they will have to reconsider pay. Yes, it will cost us in the short-term, but will be worth it in the long run.

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  • Am at the top of Band 5 so got 1%, and with pension hikes am now about £5 a month worse off !!!!! Go figure. . . . . . . .

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  • dont bet on nurses taking strike action and the govt knows it...remember the pensions issue...they just rolled over and accepted it

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  • I must admit to being a bit confused by nurses attitude in the UK. I work in Australia where we get a pretty decent wage. If I still worked in the NHS I would be making plans to do something, anything so as not to feel disrespected and ripped off by my employers. Strike, retrain, emigrate. If I am out of order and have the facts of UK nurses predicament wrong, I apologise, but I am only going on articles and comments I read on site.
    I know some of you have a strong work ethic and drive for public service, and true, I have only ever considered nursing as a job, but does the public really deserve your expert ministrations when they are prepared to allow you to be disadvantaged year after year. Remember, if you want to be treated well, you have to show some self respect, and that means not standing by and allowing yourselves to be abused.
    Anyway, good luck with your continued efforts to be treated fairly, and remember, there is always Australia where nurses still seem to be valued skilled workers.
    And don't worry about the sharks and venomous bugs, with your current experiences at the hands of your employers, it would be a walk in the park.

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  • This Government and politicians are good at spouting rhetoric but there no real action to show they respect and value nurses and NHS staff.
    Great to give massive bonuses and payrises in other industries, such as in finance to attract and retain highly skilled, experienced and dedicated staff, but none for people who save lives, improve quality of care and improve outcomes for patients.

    They don't value the increment scheme, whereby as staff develop their experience they get to 100% of their competencies and pay, then its time to scrap it and just have 2 levels at each band - current mid-band point for staff new into that grade for two years, then top-band point for staff there after.

    Also continually not awarding cost-of-living rises each year, we're all in reality suffering from sustained pay cuts - not freezes.

    If they're worried about brain-drain, like for finance, science and engineering sectors, then they should also be worried about it for the healthcare staff.

    This government doesn't give a damn.
    Time for industrial action is long overdue.
    Vote them out at the next general election. The numbers of staff in NHS and healthcare staff should be sufficient enough to swing any significant majority the other way.

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  • tinkerbell

    andy | 4-Jun-2014 11:21 am

    Agree, healthcare staff need to educate themselves about how the nhs is being used as a political football and vote for the party that wants to save it from uncaring, multimillionaire politicians who don't need it cos they have shares in it and would probably only use it as a last resort, which is what the general public will be left with once healthcare becomes a 2 tier system, one for the rich and one for the workers.

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  • Nurses have been sold down the river by the unions as well as the government. Agenda for Change was an unaffordable farce. It has given employers carte blanche now to drive a coach and horses through terms and conditions which had been in place for many years under Whitley Council and served us well.
    I started my career in 1973, and remember the demos and marches we had in the early 70s to fight for better terms. I don't see much evidence of nurses willing to fight now..just roll over and accept whatever. The present pay 'offer' is a gross insult to qualified nurses.

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  • Even if implemented in full, this is not a pay rise, it is a rwal terms pay cut. Again

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