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Unions offer united front in bid to reopen pay deal

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Nurse unions say they will put past disagreements aside in efforts to bring about a reopening of nurse pay talks.

Relations between the members of staffside have been fraught this summer because of disagreements over the current deal, worth 8% overall until 2011.

But at a meeting last week, representatives agreed that their best hope of triggering a reopener clause was to work together on providing evidence as to why the deal should be revisited. In attempts to trigger the clause unions will present evidence to the NHS pay review body showing that inflation is damaging their members’ quality of life.

Discussions are currently focused on the timetable for this evidence and how best to convince the review body that inflation is high enough for the deal to be revised. This will hopefully pave the way for further talks early next year to decide by how much the deal should be improved by (NT News, 5 August, p2).

Josie Irwin, RCN head of employment relations, said: ‘What had the most impact with the PRB in the last pay round was the joint evidence from the staffside. We stand to gain more by working together than taking an individual approach – we should stay united and put the most time into our joint evidence.’

John Skewes, RCM head of employment relations, added: ‘What we have seen is that the government and the employers have been able to divide and rule. I would hope to put up a united front on the part of the unions.’

The three-year pay deal was negotiated by Unison and the RCN but was opposed by Unite, which is currently threatening industrial action because the government has refused requests for further talks (NT News, 15 July, p3).

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