Unions split on NHS pay changes

Unite representatives and supporters lobbied Agenda for Change talks at the Unison head office yesterday lunchtime
Unite representatives and supporters lobbied Agenda for Change talks at the Unison head office yesterday lunchtime

UNITE and GMB officers, members and supporters held a lunchtime protest outside the Unison head office in London yesterday, where the NHS staff side meeting was deciding on proposed changes to the Agenda for Change national pay agreement.

Unison and the RCN leaders have agreed to accept the changes.

But Sarah Cook, Unite’s London lead officer for health, told News Line: ‘Some of the unions completely oppose the changes – Unite, the GMB, the Society of Radiographers, the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, and the Federation of Clinical Scientists.

‘We believe these are national terms and conditions and should remain so.

‘Our view is the changes will open the door to further attacks on our terms and conditions.

‘The South West Cartel, who started this whole thing off, have already said the changes proposed don’t go far enough.

‘We contend the changes will lead to local pay in the longer term. It’s all part of breaking up the NHS.

‘Unite will fight and campaign to oppose changes at local level and build for a national demonstration on 18th May to keep the NHS public.’

Bromley local government Unite branch secretary Adam Jenkins added: ‘We’re lobbying the staff side because we are against the changes to Agenda for Change which Unison seems to be agreeing with.

‘The proposed changes will affect our members in the NHS. It will upset their terms and conditions and rights that they fought for for years.’

Ann Crozier, Unite shop steward at Nine Wells Hospital, Dundee, said: ‘We’re here to defend the NHS against all the privatisation that is going on.

‘What happens here will affect us in Scotland.

‘People’s care is suffering. They are getting conned by this government.’

Unite Irish executive member Tracey Osment from Dublin told News Line: ‘We’re here because we’ve already had these cuts in Ireland.

‘Now the Dublin government want another eight per cent cut in our wages for public sector workers.’

Ian Evans, Unite healthcare scientists chair, said: ‘We don’t agree with the proposed changes in our terms and conditions.

‘If we let these go through, the NHS employers will come back and expect us to give up more.

‘We have to convince members of other unions that this option isn’t the right one.’