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Unite rejects pay deal for NHS members

Thumbs down given to pay offer for 12,000 NHS members

Caroline White

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Unite is calling on its NHS members to reject the government’s staged pay deal announced earlier this month, amid growing fears of a downturn in Britain’s economy.

The GMB union and the Royal College of Midwives have already rejected the 8.1% deal, which would award a 2.75% pay rise this year, followed by increases of 2.49% and 2.25% in the two subsequent years.

Both unions cited inflationary pressures and unfavourable economic trends as factors behind their decision.

The deal, which matches the Pay Review Body recommendations, is the highest award for public sector workers. It would provide for a £6.77 hourly minimum wage.

But Peter Allenson, who represents Unite’s 12,000 NHS workers, made up of health visitors, mental health nurses and ambulance staff, claimed the pay deal was “not sufficient”.

“We have reservations that the re-negotiation clause, which should come into effect in situations of rising inflation, is not strong enough and that in a climate of economic insecurity, it is not at a level sufficient to meet our members’ needs,” he explained.

A Unite spokesperson told OnMedica that the union wanted to see this clause “strengthened” to avoid the prospect of a lower offer being made.

He added that the NHS chief executive had made it clear that the government had the right to reconsider its offer. “We see this as a clear threat,” said the spokesperson.

When asked if the union would consider industrial action if there were no room for renegotiation, he replied that it was “far too early to tell”.

Unite will discuss the deal with representatives for its remaining 100,000 members next week, after which the whole membership will be balloted.

The RCN and Unison have backed the deal, but an online poll of readers carried out for Nursing Times, published yesterday, revealed that nurses are unhappy with the offer.

Of the 2,400 respondents, 71% said they would not accept the deal, and almost eight out of 10 (79%) did not want the award to be staggered over three years.

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