|The News Line: Editorial
Thursday, 29 January 2015
The great betrayal – NHS union leaders call off strike action!
NHS trade unions have called off (‘suspended’) today’s strike and betrayed their members by accepting the government’s decision not to pay the full and measly 1% pay rise to all NHS staff this year, in favour of Tory assurances that there will be a little more jam available for them ‘tomorrow’ (still no more than 1%), if the Tories are re-elected.
Unison head of health and the unions’ lead negotiator, Christina McAnea, admitted yesterday: ‘This isn’t a great offer.’ She added: ‘… but it addresses some of the key concerns unions have about low pay in the NHS. In the interest of patients’ safety, unions will now consult members.’
Unison leaders seem to agree with the Tories that the strike would be ‘unsafe’ for patients, and wants to accept what it describes as not a great offer, rather than do their duty and lead the strike action to secure 1% for all. She states that if the members) choose to reject the offer ‘we will move to further industrial action.’ – Note she does not say that the union will carry out the agreed strike action!
Unite’s assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, hailed the offer (which does not concede one per cent for all this year) as one that ‘moves the NHS towards becoming a living wage employer and begins to address issues around low pay’. She adds: ‘Members will decide on whether to accept or reject the offer of what we believe is the best that can be achieved by negotiation.’ She forgets the members voted for strike action! She accepts that the Tories will not conceed 1% for all in the current year, so Cartmail is reduced to advocating Tory pledges for what they say they will do in the future.
If she thinks that the offer is so great, perhaps she is considering voting Tory in May to give Cameron a chance to carry it out.
In fact, the trade union leaders have run away from the fight, and have surrendered the current year’s pay rise of 1% for all to the Tories, in favour of Tory promises!
For the GMB, Rehana Azam said: ‘We believe that we have achieved a good deal in challenging circumstances that has been improved significantly following your industrial action and campaigning.’ She is trying to turn defeat into a paper victory based on Tory pledges.
The RCM says that the new offer is:
• 1% consolidated pay rise for all staff up to the pay point 42 from April 2015;
• the Government reaffirms its commitment to the NHS Pay Review Body and the PRB will continue to make future recommendations on pay uplift for NHS staff in relation to 2016/2017 and thereafter;
• abolition of the first pay point of the Agenda for Change pay scales and an increase to the second pay point so that the first Agenda for Change pay point is £15,100;
• an additional £200 consolidated payment to staff in pay points 3-8;
• a one-year increment freeze in 2015/16 for staff on pay point 34 (second point on Band 8A) and above (to end April 2016);
• talks to take place with a view to the proposed redundancy changes being implemented from 1 April 2015; and
• the Trade Unions commit to talks on further reforming Agenda for Change which would aim to produce an agreement for implementation from April 2016. This will be part of a more general review of terms and conditions for all NHS staff including doctors and senior managers.
Note that once again the Tories have won over not paying this year’s pay award in full and have not agreed to more than 1 per cent next year, nor even to carry out the PRB recommendations.
Meanwhile, the unions have accepted ‘further reforming Agenda for Change’ under which the Tory government will make everybody reapply for their jobs once again under conditions of a review of the terms and conditions of all staff.
All this is to be bought for a further 1% unless you are above pay point 42, when the changes will be bought for nothing!
NHS workers must immediately tell their leaders to reinstate the strike action, or resign! In fact, this attempt at a great betrayal proves once again the need for a new and revolutionary leadership in the trade unions that is not running scared of the Tories and will defend all of the basic gains and basic rights of the working class.
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