THE trade unions are unanimous in their condemnation of the 1% pay award for NHS workers.
Even the TUC, which considers PM May to be a ‘partner’, although it did not put out a statement on its website, through its press office told News Line: ‘Today’s report is a damning indictment of the government’s public sector pay restrictions. Health workers are facing even bigger real pay cuts than expected. It’s no wonder it’s so tough to hire and retain good staff. Cuts to bursaries and extra workloads aren’t helping either.’
It adds: ‘We agree with the Pay Review Body that the government needs to change its policy. It’s time to scrap the pay restrictions and get a proper strategy to attract NHS staff.’ However, every worker knows that asking the government to change its policy is a waste of time, and that strike action on a national scale is called for to save the NHS by bringing this government down!
Unite said: ‘What the PRB has proposed is woefully inadequate and means that the majority of NHS staff will have experienced a loss of income in real terms of about 17 per cent since 2010.’ It also points out that ‘Lurking in the background are the 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) for England which, we believe, are a subversive vehicle to privatise NHS services and this may have a severe impact on pay, and terms and conditions in the future.’
Unison’s Chair of the trade union side of the NHS staff council and executive, Christina McAnea, said: ‘It’s a derisory amount in the face of soaring fuel bills, rising food prices and increasing transport costs.’
McAnea added: ‘Today’s unfair settlement is yet more evidence of the government’s failure to invest in the NHS. Ministers must stop relying on goodwill, rethink this short-sighted pay policy and reward staff properly.’
Again there is an appeal to the Tories to change their policy when there should be a call to action to get them out! This is even though Unison also points out that ‘This is the sixth year running that the PRB settlement has failed to match an increase in the cost of living for staff. Inflation is currently 3.2% (Retail Prices Index), the highest rate since September 2013.’
Unison points out that ‘More than £4.3bn has been cut from NHS staff salaries between 2010 and 2016 as a result of the government’s pay cap. This is the equivalent of an annual pay reduction of £2,288 for a hospital cleaner, £4,846 for a nurse and £8,364 for a clinical psychologist.’
The RCN’s Janet Davies, RCN Chief Executive, said ”Figures from the Public Accounts Committee show that the proportion of nurses leaving their job increased from 6.8% (2010/11) to 9.2% (2014/15). The leaving rate for NHS staff in general was 16% last year, which represents a 4% increase between 2011 and 2016.
‘The government has already cut nursing pay by 14% in real-terms – leaving too many struggling and turning to foodbanks and hardship grants.’ The BMA’s Dr Porter said: ‘Yet again the annual pay review is nothing other than a cover for driving down real pay in the health service.’ The BMA points out that ‘In real terms, doctors’ pay has sharply declined in the past five years, with junior doctors seeing their income drop by 17 per cent at a time when their morale has been badly hit by the government’s mishandling of the new contract. Over the same period consultants have seen their pay drop by 14 per cent and GPs by 13 per cent.’
Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary for Public Services, said: ‘Public sector workers desperately need a real pay rise, not the miserly and cruel decision being imposed on them by the government.’ The GMB then announced that ‘GMB, the union for NHS workers, will write to Jeremy Hunt urging him to think again following the NHS real terms wage cut.’
It is clear that the time has come for action, not to beg the Tories to change their policy. It is not the job of the trade unions to stand by and watch as their members are turned into working paupers! The trade unions and their seven million members must demand an immediate meeting of the TUC general council to defend the NHS, NHS workers and all workers by calling an indefinite general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government and socialism. This is the only way to get a decent pay rise and job security!