NURSES reacted with fury last week when they received their July pay packets and realised that the 3% pay increase their union, the RCN, had promised did not in fact exist.
Instead the majority of nurses only received a measly 1.5% increase, hundreds of pounds less than they were promised as part of the wage deal negotiated by the RCN along with 12 other health service unions.
This rotten deal negotiated by the unions in March was supposed to amount to an increase of 6.5% for NHS staff who have been subjected to years of zero pay increases or rises capped at a derisory 1% – resulting in staff nurses losing on average £14,500 since 2010.
6.5% spread over 3 years with inflation set to increase by 9.6% over the same period meant this pay deal was always a massive cut in pay for NHS workers and a complete betrayal by the union leaders who went flat to sell it to their members as a fantastic pay deal.
Out of all the unions involved only the GMB to their credit stood out and recommended rejection.
Every other union leader pushed for acceptance and was happy to peddle extravagant claims that some lower paid workers would get up to 29% increases.
They played down and ignored the fact that much of this derisory 6.5% included incremental payments that staff were already entitled to. The RCN leaders came out boldly stating that every one of their members in England would receive the 3% initial increase in July’s pay packet.
Their boasts have turned to ashes in their mouths now that reality has hit home along with pay slips. Last week the RCN general secretary Janet Davies was forced to issue a groveling apology in an email to every member in England which said that she was ‘angry’ and ‘dismayed’ that the pay deal was ‘not as straightforward as we said’.
Davies wrote: ‘In good faith, we told all members that they would receive a 3% uplift this summer. I now find that this is not the case for everyone.’ Davies may feel ‘angry and dismayed’ but this is nothing compared to the feelings of fury and disgust by RCN members who now realise they have been sold-out by their union leaders who deceived them at every turn about this deal.
An on-line petition organised by RCN members demanding an emergency general meeting to ‘discuss the communication and our confidence in the process’ on the way the RCN conducted the consultation on the pay deal soon reached the required number to force this meeting.
The petition states: ‘We the undersigned also have no confidence in the current leadership of the Royal College of Nursing and call for them to stand down.’ The fury of RCN members will be felt by every worker in the NHS whose union leaders promoted a pack of lies about this pay deal to secure acceptance in consultative ballots.
These leaders knew full well that this was a wage-cutting deal, they were desperate to force it through in order to prevent the anger of their members forcing a real fight with this Tory government.
Unite and Unison members must follow the lead of RCN members in demanding emergency union conferences to throw out this rotten corrupt deal along with those leaders who forced it on them rather than fight this Tory government.
NHS workers must demand a campaign of all-out industrial action around the demand for a real pay increase of 20% across the board over three years – only this will begin to make up for all the wage cuts of the past and protect workers from future inflation.
The Tories, of course, will never concede such a demand so the only way forward is for the health unions to force the TUC to call a general strike to kick out this Tory government and go forward to a workers government that will expropriate the bankers and bosses and use their vast wealth to fund the NHS and give decent wages to every worker under a planned socialist economy.