Feeling confident that the pensions dispute is over, the government is preparing a fresh attack on our terms and conditions. The new proposals are a “bully’s charter” that will give line managers control over whether or not you get increments.
Under the new schemes, we will have to meet locally determined performance targets before we get our increments. Moreover, those at the top of their pay band will get their pay increases as a lump sum, and not as part of their monthly pay packet.
The bosses are trying to promote the idea that our increments are like bonus pay for good performance, rather than part of our contracted pay. The effect of this change is to create a system where managers can restrict pay at will. It will also mean that union representatives are overloaded with individual case work, as member challenge their bosses’ judgement.
Other changes include sick pay being paid at a basic rate, plus cost-of-living increases, but without any unsociable hours payments. This will be particularly harsh on workers who work permanent nights, and rely on regular unsociable hours income. Trusts can also set their own pay scale for senior nurses, and they are abolishing the double increment rise for new starters.
Unions have threatened to walk out of negotiations because 20 trusts, mostly in the south west, have joined a “cartel” which is ignoring the national negotiating process and railroading through their own pay plans. Their proposals include cutting staff pay by up to 15%.
The cartel represents a growing trend across a variety of sectors for bosses to unilaterally rip up collective agreements and impose new terms and conditions without consulting unions. A similar “cartel” method was behind the electricians’ dispute which eventually saw seven construction industry contractors back down from their attempts to rip up the existing Joint Industry Board agreement and impose a 35% pay cut.
The electricians beat their bosses’ pay cartel through a sustained campaign of industrial direct action. Healthworkers should discuss how we can do the same.