The annual pay rise for NHS workers should be a consolidated cash sum for all staff, which would benefit the lower paid, rather than a percentage increase, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 24 September).
Unite said that the Pay Review Body (PRB) should recommend a bottom loaded flat rate increase for the million NHS workers, covered by the Agenda for Change national agreement, for 2014-15.
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “We believe that a bottom loaded flat rate increase would be the best way to help lower paid NHS workers combat the 15 per cent pay cut in real terms they have endured since 2010.”
The union staff side submission today calls on the PRB ‘to investigate’ the flat rate increase, but Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said it wanted the PRB to go further and grasp the nettle of declining living standards - in only eight months since 2006 have NHS staff experienced above inflation pay increases.
Rachael Masklell said: “The idea behind the flat rate increase is that the rise in the price of a loaf of bread is the same whether you are a trust chief executive or a cleaner, and therefore why should the CEO get a pay increase more than ten times that of the cleaner, as would be the case it you have a percentage increase.
“Unite believes that it is a scandal that many NHS staff are not even getting a ‘living wage’ of £7.45 outside London and £8.55 in the capital for NHS employees. It is clear that the government's pay policy is pushing hard working and dedicated NHS staff into poverty and debt.
“To implement the ‘living wage’ would cost £5 million a year which is a drop in the ocean compared with the NHS annual budget of £108 billion a year.”
Unite said that its members are also questioning the role and independence of the PRB as, in recent times, NHS pay increases had been dictated by government.
Rachael Maskell said: “It is high time that the independence of the PRB was restored by ministers and it could get on with its deliberations in an impartial manner, without the constant threat of ministerial intervention.”
Unite estimates that NHS employees are due £286 a year - just over £5 a week - for every one per cent pay increase to the national pay bill across all employees. A 3.2 per cent increase in line with current retail price index projections would amount to £916 a year; whereas a five per cent rise would be £1,430 a year.
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.