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Morale to factor in 2008 pay deal

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NURSE morale in the wake of this year's staged pay award will be used as evidence when deciding next year's award, NT has learnt.

Threats of industrial action have also started again just weeks after the last healthcare union, the RCM, decided to accept the deal on 17 October.

Unions are preparing this week to give evidence to the independent pay review body (PRB), which for the first time will decide the award for all staff on Agenda for Change contracts.

Unions traditionally do not put a figure on the pay award they expect - but will be asking the PRB to make an award that is above the Treasury's recommendation.

Evidence will include findings from a survey on staff morale and violence against health service staff, negotiators have told NT.

Mike Jackson, Unison's lead negotiator on pay, said: 'The joint evidence to the PRB will include strong arguments to support an above-inflation pay increase for next year.

'The evidence points to a worsening of staff morale and an increased workload for staff,' he said.

Chancellor Alistair Darling has, however, set out his intention to keep public sector pay rises below 2% in the Comprehensive Spending Review, which was published in early October.

But Gareth Phillips, RCN council member for Wales, claimed any attempt to stage or cap the review by ministers would precipitate industrial action by nurses.

'We would be looking at guaranteed industrial action,' said Mr Phillips.

'The government needs to understand that the only reason we didn't take industrial action last time was because they caught us on the back foot. This year we are ready -we will not tolerate this behaviour again.'

Kevin Coyne, Unite head of health, said: 'We very much regret the position that the government took last year. We are expecting it to honour the integrity and independence of the PRB.'

Talks between unions and government on a new multi-year pay deal are ongoing.

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