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Update: NHS pay award shows 'complete contempt' for CSP members

14 March 2014 - 3:53pm

Senior members of the CSP’s industrial relations committee (IRC) and its officers are due to meet on 19 March to consider the CSP response to the Westminster government’s pay decision, announced on Thursday. This story updates the one published 13 March.

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Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander. Photo: HM Treasury

Speaking immediately after the announcement, CSP assistant director Peter Finch said the proposal to ignore pay review body (PRB) recommendations for a one per cent across the board pay uplift and impose a further two years of pay restraint showed ‘complete contempt’ for CSP members.

Following discussion with senior CSP lay union representatives, including members of the IRC, he added today: ‘Already many CSP members have expressed their anger at the government decision and the CSP will be looking at all options, including consulting members on whether they would be prepared to take industrial action over this issue.

‘The CSP is also in close contact with other health unions over their plans to try to coordinate any joint union activity.’

A number of other health unions have stated they will be consulting their members over industrial action, or are considering it.

One per cent

The government has vetoed the pay review body (PRB) recommendation of a one per cent pay rise for all NHS staff from 1 April. Instead, the rise will only apply to people at the top of their pay band.

The PRB recommendation was for a one per cent across the board – in other words, for all Agenda for Change pay points – including those due an incremental increase.

The CSP was ‘appalled’ by the rejection of the recommended rise, one for which all NHS staff ‘have worked so hard’.

Mr Finch said: ‘The government shows a complete contempt for the very people who have somehow continued to deliver outstanding patient services under extremely difficult circumstances.

Patient care

‘This very disappointing decision will further damage morale, which could then affect patient care at a time when the NHS is asking its dedicated staff to work harder than ever.’

The government said that it planned to make this a two year deal, with a two per cent rise in 2015/16 for those NHS staff not getting an incremental increase. However, as the cost of living increase will not be consolidated - meaning it won't be pensionable and is not permanent - the two per cent rise in 2015/16 is a two percent rise on 2013/14 pay rates. In other words, a one per cent non-consolidated rise this year and a one per cent rise non-consolidated rise next year.

However the government would consider consolidating the rises if the unions agreed to freezing incremental progression in 2015/16 for one year.

Pay policy

Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander defended his pay policy by claiming that: ‘Public sector pay restraint has already helped protect thousands of jobs and frontline services.’

This was rejected by Mr Finch: ‘There is no evidence that NHS pay restraint creates more jobs to deliver patient services, and staff in England agreed last year to make increments performance-related.’

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, said: ‘NHS staff have been singled out for particularly harsh treatment, at a time when they are already facing a funding crisis, staff cuts, privatisation and top-down restructuring.

‘With public service workers due to pay higher pension contributions, many will see almost no difference in their take home pay despite facing higher bills.'

Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

The Scotland government said it will implement the PRB recommendation of an across the board one per cent rise for all AfC staff.

Wales will make an award ‘based on the same quantum’ as England but ‘we may wish to distribute the award in a different way’, said health minister Mark Drakeford, who will meeting with unions, including the CSP, about this.

In Northern Ireland, health minister Edwin Poots said he would ‘need some time’ to consider the PRB’s recommendations.

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