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In perspective - New agenda for Wales?

CSP members in Wales are set to decide on possible changes to their Agenda for Change arrangements, says Peter Finch

CSP members employed by the NHS in Wales will shortly be asked to consider changes to their terms and conditions.

When the NHS pay review body recommended a one per cent increase in pay last year, the health minister for Wales set up a Strategic Pay Taskforce bringing together the Welsh Government, unions and employers to ‘examine the affordability of the pay bill in the short and medium term’.

Facing a cut of £1.7 billion in funding from the Westminster government, the NHS in Wales is expected to make £185 million savings in this financial year and to make further savings of £254 million and £246 million in the next two years; cuts to the pay bill form part of those savings.

The CSP and other unions have been in negotiations with the Welsh Government and employers in recent months to try to agree proposals which we could consult members on.

The original proposals included the changes which NHS staff in England agreed to last year, but also a possible freeze on pay and incremental progression, changes to when unsocial hours might be paid, reductions in annual leave and other possible cuts to terms and conditions.

The unions made it clear any further pay freeze was unacceptable, and that we could not agree a slash and burn approach to members’ terms and conditions.

We made it clear that while we understood the financial challenges facing the service, we expected employers to look at other non-pay elements of the budget. We were also clear that all staff had to share any pain, not just those on Agenda for Change terms and conditions.

We have had further negotiations and are now at the stage where we can consult members on the employer proposals.

The proposals put forward by employers in early January, if agreed, would involve staff in Wales accepting the same changes CSP members in England agreed around incremental progression and payments during periods of sick leave. In addition, there is a proposal to change the mileage rate staff receive on NHS business.

The Society’s industrial relations committee discussed the final proposals at its meeting on 5 February and CSP stewards are organising workplace meetings across Wales from 19 March to 8 April where officers from employment relations and union services will explain the proposals and answer members’ questions.

Members will then be able to say if they accept or reject the proposals in a consultative ballot taking place from 7 to 25 April.

The other unions in Wales will be organising their own consultations and we are scheduled to meet at the end of April to consider the results and advise the Welsh Government and employers of our position.

Find out more at: www.csp.org.uk/afcwales

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