UNISON is calling for a nurse pay rise ‘significantly’ above the rate of inflation as measured by the retail price index, currently running at 3.9%.
Soaring energy, housing and living costs mean nurses have taken a wage cut over the past year, according to evidence submitted by the union to the independent Pay Review Body.
It says the average band 5 nurse has seen housing costs increase by 15%, electricity and gas bills increase by 26%, food bills increase by 20% and petrol and transport costs increase by 29% and 18% respectively over the past year.
The evidence, revealed exclusively to NT, also points to average council tax increases of 4.3% and rises in domestic gas prices of 94% between 2003 and 2006.
Unison has argued that private sector companies have awarded higher pay rises to their staff to compensate for the spiralling costs of living, while the NHS has not.
The union has called for a higher than inflation award this year to make up the ground lost because of last year’s staged pay award in England, which was the equivalent of a 1.9% rise. This was further eroded by interest rates that have run above 4% throughout 2007, the union says.
It has also called for a flat rate increase for Agenda for Change bands 1–3 and for the body to recommend further funding for the relaunched Knowledge and Skills Framework training and staff development scheme.
Mike Jackson, Unison senior national officer for health, said: ‘What we tried to include in our evidence were examples of how it affects our members and it includes a number of case studies.
‘It shows what inflation really means – in some cases for our members it is much higher than the retail price index.’
However, evidence submitted to the review body by the government and NHS Employers has recommended rises of just 2% for all staff on Agenda for Change pay scales.