Unions Must Fight And Defeat Local Pay Plans


THE Tory LibDem coalition, despite all its problems and weaknesses, waged a war to bring its Health and Social Care privatising bill into law.

They were able to defy the Labour Party and the NHS trade unions, including the BMA and the RCN, and the opposition of the mass of the population to bring the bill into law, because Labour and the trade union organisations were only willing to ‘fight’ with both hands tied behind their backs, since they refused to issue a call for, or organise, action to bring the Tory LibDem coalition down.

Strengthened by this failure to act the Tories, driven by the capitalist crisis, are now proceeding to widen their attack on the wages and salaries of the working class and the middle class.

Lansley, the NHS Secretary, has announced, at the same time as hospitals are to be closed and the health service privatised, that his department will be bringing in local pay for NHS staff, to cut their pay, at the same time as their pensions are being destroyed and inflation is running amok.

In written evidence to the independent NHS pay review board, Lansley’s department has stated that there is a prima facie case for regional pay in the NHS.

This will mean nurses, porters, cleaners and ambulance workers earning a lot less in the provinces than they will in London. Once in, it will be extended to doctors.

It means the end of national trade union agreements and will greatly weaken the power of the trade unions, to the point where national trade unions themselves will begin to seem an anomoly.

The only exception to this reorganisation, emphasising its class war nature, will be the coalition regime’s ‘chosen men and women’ – the top paid managers – who are being put into place in the newly created bodies to push through the programme of mass hospital closures and commissioning privatisation measures.

Their pay is inviolable, so as to ‘attract and retain high-calibre leaders and staff responsible for transforming delivery’.

In his budget, Chancellor Osborne pledged that the public sector would be ‘more responsive’ to local pay to help the private sector out of its slump.

The new proposed national pay negotiation power of the unions will be limited to setting the lowest minimum possible rate, the starvation pay rate, with anything more to be negotiated through supplements.

Unions are to be administering the new ‘poor wages law’ under the Osborne, Cameron, Lansley plan!

Its wage cutting character is emphasised by the document’s observation that ‘where the NHS pay premium is relatively high there is the potential for private sector enterprise to be crowded out with adverse impact on the prospects for local economic growth.’ There is no question of the private sector paying more wages!

Under this plan the race to the bottom is to be supervised by the trade unions.

The Labour Party is masquerading as an opposition to this plan. Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s former privatising health secretary, commented: ‘National pay is part of what underpins a truly national health service. Labour will defend it, as it is fair to staff, helps control costs and brings stability to the system.’

His opposition will be limited to warm air, and appeals to the Liberal Democrats to refuse to support such a policy, despite the way that the LibDems brought in the new Health Law.

Their health law victory has given the arrogant Tories extra conviction that they are indeed the masters and that they will be able get away with murder.

There is only one policy capable of dealing with the coalition. The trade unions must be made to call a general strike to bring them down and to bring in a workers government and a socialist revolution!