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NHS pay change proposals rejected by Unite


All proposed changes to the national contract for nurse pay and conditions have been rejected by the union Unite, it announced last week.

Last November nursing union representatives agreed a set of proposals with the NHS Employers organisation, which they have been consulting on with their members. The proposals include removing one of the two pay progressions for nurses in their first year after qualifying and linking other incremental pay rises to performance.

Unite confirmed to Nursing Times that its NHS members had voted “overwhelmingly” in a consultative ballot to reject any moves to dilute the Agenda for Change agreement.

In a statement issued on Friday it particularly criticised proposals to introduce “divide-and-rule” performance related-pay and abolish unsocial hours payments for when staff are off sick.

Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “Our members have overwhelmingly rejected the proposed changes to Agenda for Change. We note that the NHS Employers has said that these changes won’t be imposed, if unions don’t sign up.

“However, we are worried that hardline ‘rogue’ employers will try to flex their muscles locally to attack pay and conditions.”

Leaders from Unite strongly indicated the union would reject the deal back in August prior to the current draft proposals being agreed for consultation by the NHS Staff Council.

A Unite spokesman told Nursing Times the union was not releasing the figures from its consultative ballot, because it was not conducted by the Electoral Reform Society.

“The ‘overwhelming’ vote is also backed up by workplace meetings, representative meetings, regional conferences and constant monitoring of our members’ view in recent months,” he said.

Results from similar consultation exercises are expected soon from the Royal College of Nursing and Unison.


Readers' comments (26)

  • “However, we are worried that hardline ‘rogue’ employers will try to flex their muscles locally to attack pay and conditions.”

    They probably figured that the South-West Consortium Foundation Trusts cannot be stopped by this government from breaking away, to do whatever they want. As such, however the negotiations go, its likely that other FTs would also leave.

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  • I'm a bit bemused as to why this deal has been rejected really. I don't have a problem with incremental increases being linked to performance, as this happens as a matter of course in the private sector. Seems odd to me to get your increment for doing diddly squat, if your peers are doing courses, extended roles etc. As for the notion of receiving enhancements when off sick. How ridiculous! Sick pay, should be just that, sick pay! A basic amount of pay is all that is required, as let's face it, if we're that ill, we won't be leaving the house and spending money anyway. If we are ok to leave our homes, we're well enough to go to work. This is a sensible amendment to agenda for change, but yet again the unions don't discuss, they just say 'no'. I personally think that just paying health care workers a flat rate for sick pay will save money. Money that could go back into services or indeed pay for a few more nurses. Just a thought.... !

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  • Whereas, I agree in principle, that sick pay should be paid at a flat rate, if health care workers were paid a decent and fair wage in the first instance, perhaps this would not be such a contentious issue. Many health care workers rely on working unsocial hours to bring their wage up to something they can live on. After 4 years of a pay freeze, effectively a pay cut, attacks on pensions, etc., I applaud a union and members who have the courage to actually vote, instead of moaning and doing nothing.

    The private sector is nothing to do with this and it is tiresome when the " doesn't happen in the private sector...." argument is used as justification to screw the workers. Private sector workers are quite within their rights to fight for better working conditions, pay and pensions. That's up to them. Advocating the dilution in the pay and conditions of others because you are 'envious' isn't a credible argument.

    Obviously a previous poster here is not a nurse. Otherwise, to suggest, "If we are ok to leave our homes, we're well enough to go to work.", demonstrates a dangerous ignorance of the nature and reality of illness.

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  • "A basic amount of pay is all that is required, as let's face it, if we're that ill, we won't be leaving the house and spending money anyway. If we are ok to leave our homes, we're well enough to go to work."

    A basic wage for sick leave seems reasonable but suggesting that this is all that is required for people who are off sick is not an argument. the same bills have to be paid whether one is sick or not and expenses for utilities can be higher when one is at home all day. During sickness one may require extra heating and water as well as lighting during the winter months. As for leaving the house, depending on the condition, this is often a necessity and to be encouraged to get supplies, exercise, fresh air and even to socialise, especially important for those on their own.

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  • Anonymous 10:40 am

    I am indeed a nurse. Having worked alongside a lot of people who abuse the system, I am sick and tired of people having a day off here and there with a cold. Claiming their unsocial hours and the rest of us having to work twice as hard to cover the absentees. I have no problem with people being off sick, but why should they get enhancements? It's ridiculous!

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  • Anonymous | 20-Jan-2013 4:25 pm

    from Anonymous | 20-Jan-2013 11:19 am

    I agree with you there, but I also think it is a problem to be addressed by everybody taking the responsibility for creating a good working environment and supporting those who feel a need to abuse the system and their reasons sought. there is obviously a problem there and some but possibly not all may be wilfully abusing the system to their own ends. I suspect there is a mixture of both including a genuine need to take a break. If people are so stressed or depressed or bullied they feel they need to create space for themselves by taking time off they should be able to discuss this with the team or their supervisor and be listened to in a non-judgemental manner to find better alternatives than pushing them to abuse the system.

    where I worked such abuse was unheard of and one usually had to be sent home if one was sick and even then had the feeling of letting the team down. I always took great pride on not going off sick throughout most of my career and was always distressed on the few occasions when I had no choice.

    I also think greater understanding is needed for those who are genuinely sick instead of making rather insensitive and ill-informed judgements such as those in your comment above. These are not the attitude one expects from a kind and caring nurse.

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  • Anonymous | 20-Jan-2013 4:25 pm

    "I am indeed a nurse."

    That make your stupid statement on what constitutes fitness for work less excusable.

    What is ridiculous is that you have completely failed to understand the consequences the dismantling of the Agenda for Change will mean for nurses. Sick Pay, regardless of what rate it is paid, is a very small part of a very big picture. But hey, perhaps being petty and mean-spirited about your colleagues, whilst you sacrifice a decent wage and conditions, floats your boat. Now that is ridiculous.

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  • If people are taking time off sick, it generally indicates that the team/workplace/environment, etc., may be the problem. Happy, balanced work places have low sickness rates.

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  • Re: NHS Pay Change Proposals. It isn’t just about sick pay. The impact on nurses working lives will be extremely damaging, and the impact on pay and conditions and pensions, will be irreversible. Senior Managers will still take home their bonuses if they meet their targets. (whilst the rest of us will take home much less.) This will include the staff wage bill. The limited success of the current KSF Framework means that some trusts are not delivering appraisals for their staff. In appraisal-based increment system, no need to increase pay if you simply don’t carry out an appraisal. Or you can just be subjective and unfair in your appraisals, blocking good staff from increments. So whilst the managers continue to grow fat for very little effort, their staff will find themselves out of pocket. There are also plans to ditch KSF in favour of each employer’s own assessment criteria. Goal post moving will be rife as each employer looks for new ways to keep the staff wage bill low. There is no undertaking from the NHS employers that there won’t be further dilution of terms and conditions. Pay cartels, like the one in the South West, will spring up and keep pay scales low and limit conditions. Basically, nurses will be moved from Agenda for Change and onto whatever pay scale the employer wishes to pay its staff. Regardless of whatever else happens, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be very much less than you are currently being paid.

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  • Anonymous | 20-Jan-2013 6:09 pm

    I agree with the picture you have painted. And when all that comes about, the impact on already stressed staff will be......more sickness!

    So I hope that the other unions (with their members mandate) join with Unite and throw these proposals out. I also wish that nurses would grow a spine and be prepared to take this government on....and I mean proper, effective and targeted action. This constant moaning is really going nowhere.

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