Opinion

Rights at work: your voice matters

20 September 2021

Don’t miss the chance to have your say on the Unite-CPHVA pay consultation and indicative industrial action ballot, says Unite national officer Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe

As highlighted in a Community Practitioner E-newsletter on 21 July 2021, the UK Government announced it would accept the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) recommendation of a 3% pay rise. The PRB had previously said in a report: ‘We recommend a consolidated award of 3% with effect from 1 April 2021 for all [Agenda for Change] staff.’ This means the UK Government has accepted there will be a pay increase of 3% for all Agenda for Change NHS employees, backdated to 1 April 2021. Health is a devolved matter in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, so the governments of these nations will make their own decisions over NHS pay.

Unite-CPHVA believes the PRB’s recommendation for a 3% pay rise for NHS workers in England is ‘grossly inadequate and underwhelming’ given the sacrifices that health staff have made over the past 18 months combating Covid-19.

Unite-CPHVA has called on health administrations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to boost the PRB’s recommendation substantially. Otherwise, staff will continue to ‘vote with their feet’, and the NHS recruitment and retention crisis will become even more acute – with the adverse impact that would have on the nearly five million patients in England waiting for non-Covid procedures and operations.

Unite-CPHVA is consulting its health members on the next steps, with a range of options – including a consultative ballot for industrial action with the option to strike.


Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, at the time of writing, trade unions were still in consultation with the Northern Irish Government regarding the PRB report. Once there is more clarity over the government’s position, Unite-CPHVA members in Northern Ireland will be consulted over NHS pay.


Scotland

In May 2021, Unite-CPHVA members xvoted to accept the Scottish Government’s offer of a 4% rise in pay for the Scottish NHS, backdated to December 2020, following negotiations with trade unions and the government. Only two other trade unions rejected the offer, and the pay increase was implemented for Scottish NHS workers in June 2021. Following the PRB announcement in July, it remains to be seen if any Barnett formula consequentials will flow from their recommendations.  


England

Trade unions in England have not spoken directly to the government to get clarity on these points. There has been no negotiation – the PRB accepts evidence from a range of stakeholders.  

Unite’s national health committee – which represents 100,000 members in the health service and includes many CPHVA members – decided at its meeting on 6 August that it would recommend that members not support the government’s pay rise, and that our consultation and indicative industrial action ballot of health service members would open on 27 August and run until 24 September.

At the time of writing we had not received details on funding and when it will be implemented. In addition, we do not know if this pay rise will apply to our non-NHS members and employees, though it is unlikely to. This will be of interest to community practitioners (CPs) who are not working for NHS employers. CPs employed by local government, or other non-NHS providers who are not on dynamic Agenda for Change terms and conditions, may not receive this increase because they will either be subject to local government pay negotiations (Unite-CPHVA is consulting local government members on this) or negotiations or discussions with their own employers. Please check with your LAR.

Key dates                                                                                        

27 August – Unite NHS pay consultation and indicative industrial action ballot opens

24 September – Unite NHS pay consultation and indicative industrial action ballot closes


Wales

In Wales, a consultative ballot and indicative industrial action ballot opened on 17 August and runs until 23 September 2021. There are also all-member meetings to help members understand the position of Welsh Unite in Health, which also decided not to support the 3% pay increase after the Welsh Government said it would implement the findings of the PRB.

Key dates                                              

17 August – Unite Wales NHS pay consultation and indicative industrial action ballot opens

25 August – Unite day of action for NHS pay

23 September – Unite Wales NHS pay consultation and indicative industrial action ballot closes


If you still have not received an email or letter asking you to have your say, contact Unite in Health on [email protected], your locally accredited representative (LAR) or your Unite-CPHVA regional or district office.

Please ensure your membership details are up to date, including your home address, employer, and workplace and job description. This can easily be checked in the ‘My Unite’ section on the Unite website.

For more information, contact your CPHVA LAR or Unite the Union district or regional office. Information and developments in this article were correct on 10 August 2021.

Image credit | Shutterstock

 

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