Britain's largest union, Unite pledged to fight the imposition of changes to Agenda for Change at today's (Tuesday, 26 February) NHS Staff Council meeting, which will slash the pay and conditions of more than one million NHS staff in England and introduce divisive performance related pay.
Unite and other health unions rejected the plans tabled by NHS Employers warning that the introduction of locally negotiated performance pay would further hit low staff morale and patient care.
The move by the employers comes against a backdrop of pay freezes and rising pension contributions leading to cuts in take home pay of up to 30 per cent for some health workers.
Unite accused NHS Employers of ‘unpicking’ Agenda for Change to soften the NHS up for the privatisation, warning that the changes could open the way for equal pay claims and allow rogue employers, such as the 19-trust South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium, to push ahead with plans to cut pay and conditions.
The changes which will create burdensome bureaucracy for NHS trusts in England are set to be implemented from 31 March 2013. They will see health workers’ pay progression determined by performance through local negotiations on a trust by trust basis and abolish unsocial hours payments for when staff are off sick.
Unite head of health, Rachael Maskell said: “Our members have overwhelmingly rejected the changes to Agenda for Change. Not only are they divisive, but they open the way for ‘rogue employers’ to drive down the pay and conditions of hard pressed health workers.
“It is a very dark day for the NHS, when it chooses to put more pressure on local employers and introduces cumbersome pay schemes when most trusts are struggling to make ends meet.
“Unite will fight local employers over these changes. We cannot stand back and let employers break statutory obligations for equal pay for work for equal value or press ahead with further cuts to our members’ terms and conditions.”
For further information contact Rachael Maskell on 07768 693933 or Alex Flynn, Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665 869.
Notes to editors
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.