GMB rightly recommended their members to reject the Tory government’s NHS pay offer, as a 6.5% pay increase over three years, when compared with rising inflation is in real terms a pay cut. Around 500,000 NHS workers are facing an open wage cut. However, as the details of the deal emerge we find that it is even worse than first seemed.
The text of the agreement reads:
‘4.3 The new pay progression system will: a. enable staff in Bands 2-7 to reach the top of their pay band more quickly b. describe minimum periods of time before progression to the next pay-step point c. not be automatic
d. give staff the opportunity to demonstrate they have met the required standards, including appraisals
e. require line managers and staff to follow the pay-step submission process (described in the pay progression framework document) in order to access the next pay-step point
f. require employers to provide information to enable the NHS Staff Council to undertake monitoring of pay progression and re-earnable pay in relation to employees with protected characteristics.’
It is c which is one of the big issues. This means that pay will no longer rise on an annual basis and the worker will be reduced to a helpless individual who has to conform to a number of standards before being considered for an increase. This means that for these large number of workers, any increase which they initially get could well be their last, as far as Health Secretary Hunt and his new procedures are concerned.
For these groups of workers it means the end of annual wage claims and annual increases and creates the conditions where government legislation decides when there should be a pay increase for the individual workers. Any increases will have to be ‘performance-related’ where the employees will be individually appraised.
Unison, Unite, the RCN and the RCM, however, lauded this as a good deal and recommended their members accept. The GMB is correct to oppose the deal and to stand up for trade unionism and for trade union solidarity with no state control and no doubt will get the support of many thousands of health workers who are currently non-GMB members.