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Nurse fury over jobs offer


The overwhelming majority of nurses wants unions to reject a freeze on pay increments in return for a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, a Nursing Times survey has found.

This is despite Department of Health calculations sent to unions last week, warning that up to 60,000 jobs could be at risk if the deal - hoped to save £1.9bn a year - is not accepted.

Under the proposal by NHS Employers, increments for all NHS staff would be frozen for two years from April and those in Agenda for Change bands 1-6 would receive a “no compulsory redundancy” guarantee over the same period.

But an online poll of more than 1,500 Nursing Times readers found 84% wanted their local union representative to reject the offer.

Nearly 70% of nurses said the proposed agreement was a “disgrace”, while 21% said it was “unfair”.

Two thirds said they would seek a job at a neighbouring trust if their organisation went ahead with it.

One respondent said: “I do not believe this will secure jobs, nor will it improve services. Instead, it will damage morale and demotivate a hard working workforce.”

The result was little affected by respondents’ area of work or AfC pay band.

Despite their hostility to the proposal, 42% of respondents thought it was quite likely or very likely that their union representatives would accept it.

Unison senior national officer Mike Jackson said it was too early to reject the proposal outright: “People are very worried about job security. It’s a very big decision.”

However, it looks increasingly unlikely that the deal will be accepted without further negotiations. Mr Jackson added: “It would be very unusual for unions to accept a first offer.”

Unions will deliver their verdict to NHS Employers on 20 January, after consulting with members. Discussions are likely to centre on the fact that the guarantee on compulsory redundancies does not apply to bands 7-9.

Royal College of Nursing head of employment relations Josie Irwin said this was “sticking in the craw of a lot of members”.

The survey results suggest there was disagreement among nurses on that issue.

Although only 17% of all respondents said they agreed that those on bands 7 and above should be excluded from the job guarantee part of the proposal, that increased to 28% among band 5 respondents, with a further 20% saying they did not know.

Ninety-one per cent of respondents on band 7 disagreed.

Perhaps reflecting the different make-up of the unions, 14% of Unison members said representatives should accept the deal, compared with 10% of RCN members and 11% of non-union members.

However, Ms Irwin said nurses were concerned that trusts would not honour the “no compulsory redundancy” side of any bargain.

That was backed up by the survey. More than 80% said they had little confidence that their employer would honour the pledge.

One respondent said: “The premise that fewer NHS staff will lose their jobs because of pay freezes is unfounded. It is inevitable that more cuts will be made.”

That view was also reflected in the early results of a survey by Nursing Times’ sister magazine Health Service Journal, in which only 28% of the 329 non primary care trust managers said they were confident their trust could honour the promise on redundancies.



Readers' comments (60)

  • I think this proposition seriously undermines all of agenda for change and
    must, therefore, be put to a members vote. The Union should not be negotiating about this without proper consultation with its members.

    This report demonstrates the strength of feeling about rejecting the offer and shows the lack of trust in the Government to make no redundancies.


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  • Time to find a union that works for nurses and not the NHS management.

    I think we should have a poll on who trusts the unions, or do they think the unions actually work for nurses?

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  • Answer is simple here. If the unions decide to accept it then let's all cancel our subscriptions to them in tandem.
    They should be 'our voice', not our parents.

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  • I would wonder whether the small percentage of AFC7's that dont wish to oppose this are some of the areas likely to be at risk.
    If you are in a busy, and I emphasise the word busy, frontline clinical setting then no post should be threatened here.
    I'm on a 7 and have an intensely busy post. There's no way I'd agree to this unless there were contracts drawn up to confirm that in 2 years time the monet 'taken out of our wallets' is returned i/c accrued interest once the country is economically more stable and if it included band 7 frontline posts, and I dont mean obscure posts that are not cost effective.

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  • Anonymous 11-Jan-2011 8:04am - you should not be agreeing to this in the first place, we all should be saying 'NO' no matter which band you are on. It's time to stand up and be counted and it's time the Unions supported us in what we are saying we want!

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  • anon 8.49a.m
    please dont misunderstand my point. I am wholeheartedly against this and what I am quoting there is an absolute last resort. I would take industrial action now- something I never thought I would ever threaten to do.
    I've been doing allsorts to raise the awareness of this with nurses in Liverpool.

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  • I think that the unions are going to accept this in some form or other, despite their membership telling that that it is unacceptable.

    Peter Carter from the RCN has stated that "that the proposal as it stands is ill thought-out". While making noises that the current proposal is ill though-out, it makes the assumption that there is compromise.

    There should be no compromise and the proposal for increment freezes should be rejected full stop.

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  • What was the point of having a poll if it is not listened to? The overwhelming majority have voted to reject the deal and yet the Unions are still talking of accepting the deal! I'm sorry but aren't the Unions meant to support the workers, not the government? Can anyone explain why we bother to pay to be in a Union that just refuses to listen to its members? We really do need to look at our colleagues 'downunder' and stand together for what we believe in.

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  • i for one will cancel my subscription to my union if they accept this crap...ballot us all now!!
    there are already foundation trusts..nottingham, royal berksire for example making redundancies how does this 2 year deal happen there then??
    make the 12 CE who signed the letter redundant..check robert munro's blog for their salairies..unbeleiveable..this could save a few million!!!!

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  • dept of health and the have your answer right here on all these comments.....NO NO NO

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