Health trade union members in Bristol are protesting from 10am tomorrow (Thursday 27 September) against the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium at North Bristol NHS Trust’s board meeting being held at Frenchay Hospital trust headquarters.
They plan to hand in a petition signed by over 2,000 North Bristol NHS Trust staff calling on the trust to withdraw from the consortium.
Union members are appalled by the actions of the consortium - the 20-trust strong body, covering the south west region, including Bath and north east Somerset, Bristol, north Somerset and south Gloucestershire - which wants to tear up national agreements governing pay and conditions, and impose local deals.
Unite’s head of health, Rachael Maskell, said: “Unite will not tolerate any erosion of the national pay agreement, Agenda for Change. It would be wrong for two similarly qualified nurses or pharmacists to be paid different rates depending on where they work.
“We believe that the actions of the consortium are aimed at driving down pay and reducing annual holidays and are part of a softening up process for the privatisation of the NHS.
“The consortium is a stalking horse for the right-wing privatisation agenda of the new health secretary, Jeremy Hunt - the man who reportedly seriously questioned the need for the NHS contribution to the very successful opening ceremony of the Olympics. Need more be said?
“NHS staff have already had their pay drastically cut in the last two years, due to the public sector pay freeze and the imposed pension contribution increases. Cuts have included staff having their jobs downgraded and on-call payments slashed.”
Pam Ward, of the Royal College of Midwives and secretary of North Bristol NHS Trust’s joint union committee, said: “Most big private sector employers, such as BT and Marks & Spencer, recognise that a national system is the fairest and most efficient way to set pay.
“There are already staff shortages in hospitals in the south west and south west health workers will leave to take up employment elsewhere, if they have worse pay and conditions than in other areas of the country.
“Alongside the swingeing cuts being imposed by the government, this has the potential to have a severe impact on patient care in the region.”
For further information, please contact 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.