Attempts to undermine Agenda for Change – the national pay agreement covering more than one million NHS staff – will lead to the fragmentation of services which will adversely affect patient care, Unite, the country’s largest union, has warned.
Unite, representing 100,000 members in the health service, believes that what is happening with 20 trusts in the south west of England, which want to introduce local pay deals, is being used as a Trojan Horse to break up the Agenda for Change agreement.
Unite believes that the underlying reason for tearing up Agenda for Change, which took five years to negotiate, is to soften up the NHS for privatisation by driving down pay, and terms and conditions, so that private healthcare companies can ‘cherry pick’ the best bits of the NHS to make large profits for their shareholders at the expense of patient care.
It is understood that the whole issue of dismantling Agenda for Change will be discussed at this Friday’s (19 October) meeting of the NHS Staff Council Executive – the forum for the employers and unions to discuss NHS pay and employment policies.
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “Our finger is on the pulse of staff across the NHS who are very angry at the prospect of performance related pay – and they will fight back.
“Our members feel that they are being treated with utter contempt by managers who want to introduce a system which will see a further dramatic cut to their take home pay.”
Last week Unite’s national health committee unanimously reaffirmed its support for Agenda for Change, based on extensive consultations with the membership during the summer, and if the employers don’t back down, will start making preparations for an industrial action ballot.
Rachael Maskell said: “We believe that a head of steam is building up to radically fillet Agenda for Change to soften up the NHS for privatisation by diluting the pay and terms and conditions of hard working health staff.
“The evidence for this is strong, based on the actions of the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium which is strongly promoting the concept of local pay deals, and acting as a Trojan Horse for this to be implemented at a national level in England.
“This will lead to the fragmentation of services, as employees move to trusts paying more and this will hit services to patients in those areas not prepared to a give decent pay to staff.
“This is why retaining Agenda for Change is so vitally important - to give equality of pay and health service treatment across the regions of England. Staff in the NHS will fight back to keep it.”
The consortium - the 20-trust strong body, covering the south west region - wants to tear up national agreements governing pay and conditions, and impose local deals. These moves must be strongly resisted by the health unions and public in the region.
For further information please contact Rachael Maskell on 07768 693933 and/or Unite communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.