NewsRights at work: stronger together

Rights at work: stronger together

Richard Munn, Unite’s national officer for health, gives the latest update* on the Nurses’ Pay Spine consultation, and explains why the union is not backing the move.

One of the outcomes from last year’s industrial action was that the government committed to holding a consultation on the creation of a separate pay spine for nurses. Unite does not believe that this would be beneficial.

Creating a separate pay spine for nurses would mean that nursing staff would no longer be part of Agenda for Change (AfC). This is only relevant to England. The Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales governments are clear that they will not consider introducing a separate pay spine for nurses. Unite believes that having a separate pay spine would be worse for nurses and, indeed, for all AfC staff, including health visitors and school nurses.


> A separate pay spine would not guarantee any extra money or progression for nurses. The problem is not the system, rather the investment in the system – an issue Unite will always campaign on.

> A separate pay spine would also create division in the workforce and would weaken the collective strength of NHS staff. The NHS workforce is stronger together – a fundamental trade union position.

> A separate pay spine would cause complications. AfC was designed with the principle of equal work for equal pay and the NHS-specific job evaluation system means that all NHS jobs are evaluated based on healthcare criteria. These important principles would be undermined by having a separate nurses’ pay spine. For instance, it could possibly lead to unequal pay and therefore legal claims that arise because of pay differences between men and women doing the same/similar jobs.

> AfC already allows for progression, and it is currently happening in some NHS professions. Unite is pushing for this to include nurses, but it requires financial commitment from government.

> There is a strong possibility that having a separate pay spine for nurses could lead to calls for other staff groups to follow suit, which would lead to huge equality issues and many other wide-ranging complications, such as movement between nursing and non-nursing roles, and between England and the rest of the UK.

> The process of setting up a separate pay scale for nurses would be costly and take years to implement. Unite believes that the time and money would be far better invested in AfC to deliver better pay for nurses and all staff (including community practitioners) using the existing system.

> It would also create a huge difference between England and the rest of the UK if a separate pay spine for nurses was introduced in England.

Unite is committed to its nursing members, but we believe the creation of a separate pay spine will do nothing to benefit them. We will continue to campaign for nurses and all NHS staff to improve the condition of our members in the NHS.

FOR MORE INFORMATION visit the Unite website

*Compiled end of April 2024


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