The NHS Staff Council (which includes Employers and Trade Unions) has released details of a framework agreement on NHS Pay, which has received widespread coverage in the media.
Out of the 14 Unions involved in the negotiations, GMB is the solitary voice of opposition to the deal. Yesterday (20 March), the GMB Pay Conference received a report of the negotiations, reviewed the most up to date draft agreement, and decided to recommend that members reject the pay offer.
The final agreement was received by unions today (21 March), and it was the first time that unions had seen the final agreement. Despite this a number of unions had already decided to recommend the deal. A copy of the framework agreement is available here. The offer applies to NHS England employers only, and not to NHS Employers in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. GMB colleagues on the NHS Staff Council read the agreement and in their view there was nothing in the final agreement which would have altered the Pay Conference decision.
The GMB Pay Conference recommended a rejection of the deal for the following reasons:
1. The offer of a 6.5% increase for those on the top of the pay scales (over 50% of staff) could quite possibly mean a further cut in real terms as inflation is forecast to be 9.6% over the period concerned (these figures come from the Office of Budget Responsibility). While year one will see 3% for these staff, in year two the increase will only be 1.7% and in year three, only 1.67%.
2. The NHS has been creating wholly owned subsidiary companies as a way of avoiding VAT. The are owned by their local Trust, but are independent employers, and are in fact NHS contractors. This pay deal may not apply to many of these companies, and the irony is that these companies tend to employ non clinical staff in the lower NHS pay bands (1-3) and while their NHS colleagues might lifted out of poverty pay, they may not see the benefit of the 3 year deal. There is evidence that more Trusts are moving staff to these wholly owned companies and this will remove more staff from the NHS Pay system.
3. The system of automatic annual pay progressions will disappear. While there will be fewer points for most bands, staff will have to ASK to progress, and they will have to demonstrate that they are worthy to progress to the next point. Many staff will have to stay on each point for two or three years. GMB reps in the NHS believe that employers and managers will use this tool to stop staff progressing simply to save money, especially as many NHS Trusts have significant deficits.
4. New Ambulance staff will be on different (and worse) terms and conditions of employment than current Ambulance staff in respect of unsocial hours payments, payment of unsocial hours during sick pay, and from September 2018, unsocial hours payments will no longer be paid during sick absence to ANY NHS employee.
5. Rates of unsocial hours payment will be cut over the three year period for bands 1-3.
Crucially these factors taken together may lead to more staff turnover among those on the highest pay points in each band, which is exactly what this deal was supposed to tackle.
Over the coming couple of months the GMB Trade Union will be actively consulting with its members at Livewell (Mount Gould hospital) & Derriford Hospital (including Serco).
We want to ensure that our members fully understand what the pay offer means for them and to achieve that aim we will be out and about on two sites on the following dates. should these dates and times change we will ensure the plan is updated here. these will lead to a large group meeting on the Derriford Hospital site on TUESDAY 8th MAY (venue TBC).
Members don’t have to wait until these dates to seek advice and information.
If you have questions, please get in touch with your local GMB Rep (details on our branch website).
Tuesday 4th, Wednesday 5th April – Mount Gould Hospital – Main building
Monday 16th April – Out & About at Derriford Hospital – Wards & Departments between 10am – 2pm.
Wednesday 18th April – Out & About at Derriford Hospital – Wards & Departments between 4pm – 8pm
Wednesday 25th April – Out & About at Derriford Hospital – Serco Level 3 between 10am – 2pm.
Monday 30th April – Out & About at Derriford Hospital – Wards & Departments between 10am – 2pm
Tuesday 8th May – Large Group Meeting – Derriford Hospital Site (venue TBC).