Unions angered by attempts to ‘blackmail' nurses on pay

Nursing unions are adamant they will not be blackmailed by the DoH into accepting below inflation pay rises in return for security of pensions for nurses moving out of NHS organisations to work for other providers.

Amicus head Barrie Brown
Amicus head Barrie Brown

A draft DoH workforce strategy for 2008/11, leaked to a management journal, said workforce costs needed to be kept under control and suggested unions might be convinced to accept a lower than inflation pay rise.

The document suggested unions might agree to this in return for security on career development, job security and/or security on pensions for those nurses having to shift out of NHS employment to private organisations or social enterprises providing NHS care.

However, Amicus/CPHVA head of labour relations Barrie Brown said the move would be an attempt at ‘blackmail’ similar to the DoH’s recent claim that a pay award above inflation would result in nurse redundancies.

RCN head of employment relations Josie Irwin said the RCN was already lobbying to establish a human resources (HR) framework for an NHS plural provider market.

‘One of our key actions at the moment is to lobby to ensure any nurse shifted out of NHS employment as a result of DoH reforms has pay and Agenda for Change terms and conditions transferred, including entitlement to NHS pensions,’ she said.
 
‘We want this HR framework to be an essential element in every contract the NHS has with an independent provider.’
 
She said the RCN would always negotiate on wider issues than just pay and added: ‘The idea that we would accept career progression or pension security in exchange for pay is cheeky to say the least. It’s far too simplistic to set one against the other.’

A spokeswoman for Unison said the pension entitlements of nurses being shifted out of the NHS should be a separate matter to pay negotiations for all NHS nurses.

judy.sands@haymarket.com  

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