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Unions say members will reject capped pay deal

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NURSING unions have warned that any attempts by the government to cap nurses’ pay at 2% for three years will be rejected by members. Fears are mounting that the prime minister Gordon Brown will attempt to use a multi-year pay deal to cap pay for nurses and other public sector workers at 2% for the next three years. Unison last week held a pay summit to discuss negotiation strategies with members and other unions.

Unison’s senior national officer Mike Jackson said: ‘Clearly a multi-year pay deal capped at 2% would mean that nurses would have to take a pay cut. That would not be acceptable.’
Mr Brown last week announced he favoured a
three-year deal for all public sector workers, which he said would allow government departments and families to budget more easily.
He also stated that it signalled that there may be more long-term public sector pay settlements in the future.
Mr Brown said: ‘One way forward is a move towards long-term public sector pay settlements.
‘While this will not be appropriate in all cases we will be working where relevant with the professions to consider this option for the future.’
Talks between nursing unions and employers before Christmas about the possibility of a multi-year deal had stalled. It now appears that this was because the government was considering launching its multi-year pay strategy across the entire public sector.
Josie Irwin, RCN head of employment relations, said: ‘We are interested to hear what they have to say – but the devil is in the detail. ‘I would not like to make a judgement about whether it is good or bad – but nurses have to pay for their mortgages and electricity bills.’
Unions are this week giving evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body, which is set to recommend a 2007–2008 pay rise for nurses and non-medical staff at the end of February.
Chris Bourne, RCN branch secretary at University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, said: ‘If the inflation rate goes up again, nurses are unlikely to benefit. I would be very surprised if any nurses did support it [a 2% rise].’

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