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Hunt claims government prepared to 'negotiate' on NHS pay

Ministers have offered NHS trade unions a potential deal on staff pay in 2015-16 if they are prepared to negotiate further changes to contractual terms and conditions.

The offer was made by health secretary Jeremy Hunt as the government revealed its plans to impose a new two-year pay deal limiting the amount of money staff can expect to receive.

Under the plans, which have drawn angry criticism from NHS trade unions, staff eligible for incremental pay rises will receive the increase but will get no cost of living increase.

Staff at the top of their pay bands will receive a non-consolidated 1% pay rise in 2014-15, and a 2%, non-consolidated pay rise in 2015-16. These uplifts will not be added to pensions and will not continue beyond 2015-16.

In a clear attempt to force a negotiation on pay, terms and conditions, Mr Hunt said the government might re-consider consolidating the two-year pay increases in exchange for a freeze on incremental pay rises – which it claims are unaffordable.

“The government would be prepared to reconsider”

Jeremy Hunt

Mr Hunt said today: “The government would prefer all NHS staff to receive a consolidated 1% increase.

“This would be affordable if incremental progression was frozen for one year in 2015-16,” he said.

“If the NHS trade unions were prepared to agree to this then the government would be prepared to reconsider the position and make a consolidated award as other public sector workforces are receiving.”

He added that the government wanted a thorough review of Agenda for Change and that it may ask the NHS Pay Review Body to look at contract reform next year.

“I think the government want to have a fight with the NHS workforce”

Christina McAnea

Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison and chair of the NHS Staff Side Council, told Nursing Times’ sister magazine the government “must be mad” to think unions would enter negotiations for any significant changes to Agenda for Change or the structure that currently exists “with this kind of derisory offer”.

ChristinaAmandakendalChristina McAnea

“They have shown complete contempt for the NHS and it is deliberately provocative.

“I think the government want to have a fight with the NHS workforce,” she said.

However, both Unison and Unite have said they will consider consulting members over the changes.

Unite issued a statement on Friday saying it would be prepared to take up Mr Hunt’s offer of talks on NHS pay, but only if they were “meaningful”.

The union, which has 100,000 members in the health service, has written to the health secretary saying it could engage in talks, while at the same time continuing to consult with its members over possible strike action over pay.

In the letter, Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “We have never met such anger at a pay announcement in the NHS”; but also noted that “dialogue is preferable to strike action”.

She added: “Whilst we will continue to follow the mandate of our members to demonstrate the strength of feeling against your actions and use industrial means to change your response to the review body recommendations, we would engage in talks should they be meaningful and with the intent of progressing the pay arrangements.”

News Editor, Steve Ford, explains how the NHS pay news unfolded



Readers' comments (47)

  • F+++ 'm..... let's refuse to negotiate away our conditions and fight them. It won't boost their election hopes to have an nhs strike. I am s

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  • Will the last one leaving switch the lights out!

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  • Negotiate? I thought the Government always accepted the findings of the Pay Review Body.... that was certainly their excuse when MPs were offered an 11% rise.

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  • My 2 youngest get free school lunches in the year 2015-16. This is literally the only positive financial thing that will happen to our family. We are both NHS workers.....shame on Hunt.

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  • Thirty years after the start of the Miners' Strike the tories want to pick another fight.

    How the Lib-Dems are sleeping at night beats me.

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  • Hang on a second. If 50% of the workforce are at the top of their grade and will get 1%, and the other 50% will cost 3.4% that makes the average of the two 2.2%. This means that if the increment gets frozen and those at the top of their scale get 1%, the Government makes a net profit of 1.2% or am I wrong?

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  • I have been an official for 8 unions. Under no circumstances would I enter the room to "negotiate" on swapping suffocation for strangulation.

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  • Who was involved in the 'negotiations' of the 11% deal our, 'Honourable Members' awarded themselves?

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  • Do you believe the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt when he says that the pay arrangement will not continue beyond 2015 -16? Accept his proposals and after 2015-16 there will be no increments and no pay rise at all.
    It is amazing how somebody who is earning over £500000 per year have the audacity to tell health workers that they cannot get a paltry pay rise.
    How can we expect these rich boys to understand the plight of us plebs! Can anyone tell me why they all have a perpetual smirk on their face?

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  • This is the man who claimed £3000 of tax payers money to learn Mandarin so that he can speak to his wife.

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  • "Do you believe the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt when he says that the pay arrangement will not continue beyond 2015 -16?"

    Of course not, Hunt has repeatedly shown himself to be the worst kind of career politician, happy to say and do anything that'll keep him in good standing with the people wielding power, be it David Cameron or Rupert Murdoch. He's set the stage nicely for these "negotiations" by lying straight out of the gate, claiming increments are still automatic. Not a person you could enter into negotiations with in good faith.

    For my money, any concession beyond the recommendation of the independent pay review is a concession too far. The recommendation is pitifully small as it is, but it *is* affordable and by god it's deserved.

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  • tinkerbell

    Hunt must think nurses are idiots to negotiate on their terms and conditions. How devious can this government get?

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  • I know what I want to call him and its not Hunt!

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  • Anonymous | 14-Mar-2014 6:11 pm

    I went through each letter of the alphabet trying to replace the H and apart from the forbidden one near the beginning I only found two other possibilities and wondered whether the latter of the two might be a suitable description? I leave anybody interested to work it out!

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  • tinkerbell

    spoke to a colleague at work today and asked him if he would go on strike about pay he answered 'what's the point?'. I said 'the point is solidarity brothers, united we stand, divided we fall'.

    He said 'we could be sacked if we strike', I said 'no we won't, we'll lose a days pay', he said 'i'm not going to lose a days pay'

    Enough said.

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  • Nurses wont/cannot strike BUT you can work to rule and stop working overtime that you don't get paid for but allegedly take back in lieu - but in reality can't as there are not enough nurses on each shift to take the time back. Nurses have been working for free in the NHS for years!

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  • Natalie Jewell

    Then scrap incremental pay rises and put us all at the tops of our bands - increments were invented to prevent us earning the pay we deserved.

    The whole system is corrupt anyway - I moved Trusts last year and took a band drop just for the sake of personal circumstances and Payroll wouldn't even keep me on the same pay spine - despite my being more than qualified and experienced for my new job.

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  • so we agree no increments which are 3% for a 1% pay rise.....yep sounds fair to me...

    carnt swear on here but it ends in off hunt!!

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  • how about you uphold what the independent review body said and pay the measly 1% you to******

    sorry it only works if your an MP and your pay body has said 11%...yep forgot

    got to love these tory's roll on 2015 and that ballot box!!

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  • It is a stitch up.

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