On Tuesday 9th April UNISON's National Health Delegate Conference voted overwhelmingly to support a motion by Oxon and Bucks health branches of UNISON calling on the UNISON's Health Service Group Executive to open negotiations with NHS employers to extend London weighting to all NHS staff working in areas of the South East with comparable housing costs to London to enable NHS staff to afford to live in these high cost areas.
Oxfordshire MPs and NHS employers recognise that an additional cost of living allowance is needed to end the recruitment crisis in the county.
Rental prices in Oxford are typically the same as those areas of London that attract Outer London weighting which is worth an additional 15% of wages up to a maximum of £4800.
The next step in the campaign is to strengthen the negotiators bargaining position and impress on the employers the need to meet the demand to extend London weighting to Oxford to address the staffing crisis.

Oxfordshire UNISON health branch has called a march on June 1st for London weighting to end the staffing crisis, and against ongoing cuts and privatisation.  Assemble 11 AM, Manzil Way, East Oxford.

If you would like posters and leaflets to advertise the march in your work areas please contact Ian Mckendrick UNISON health branch communications officer c/o  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

June 1 2019 Oxford NHS march leaflet

Special on what the NHS pay offer means to you.  Download here

The Conservative Governments latest shameful pay offer is another blow to already over stretched, hardworking NHS staff. UNISON is holding a series urgent workplace meetings and dropin sessions to discuss this offer, the other attacks the Conservatives are planning (such as removing unsocial hours payment) and what we can do about the current cost of living crisis facing workers across the Thames Valley.  Everyone is encouraged to attend one of these important sessions.

Warneford - McInness room

 6th April (from 12.30pm) The pay briefings will run 12.30/2.30/and 6.30 pm that would run for approx 30-40mins each (inclusive of a Q&A). In between each of these sessions we will hold drop-in sessions.

Littlemore –canteen foyer

 11th April Meeting at 10am/12pm/2pm and 6pm that would run for approx 30-40mins each (inclusive of a Q&A). In between each of these sessions we will hold drop-in sessions from 10.45-11.45/12.45-1.45/2.45-3.45 and 6.45-7.45pm.

 UNISON Health branch members are also encouraged to have their say in the pay consultation by answering the two questions accessed by the link in "UNISON consultation on pay" email.  It takes less than 1 minute. 

 

 

Last night's branch meeting voted unanimously to recommend branch members to vote to reject the latest pay offer believing that it is completely inadequate and that the government can be pushed to offer a better settlement by further strike action.

Ballot papers are starting to arrive and members are urged to return them straight away with a vote to reject.

The meeting discussed how it was the prospect of escalating action that forced the government to ask for talks and make the slightly improved offer in the hope of silencing the anger over years of pay cuts and cuts in the NHS.

The meeting criticised the offer for falling far short of Unison's aims of 1% consolidated pay rise for 2014/2015 and an above inflation pay rise for 2015/2016, while also opening the door to government sought reforms of the Agenda for Change pay scheme as negotiations on this are part of the pay offer. 

The government has already applied for cuts in unsocial hours, and has previously indicated it wants to abolish incremental pay rises.  The introduction of incremental freeze for higher bands in the pay offer sets a precedent for future negotiations, and should be rejected.

If the offer is accepted most staff will get only 1% over 2 years, though wages have fallen behind prices by at least 10%.  The fact that no new money is being made available speaks volumes about the government’s attitude towards NHS pay - they are prepared to rob one set of NHS workers to buy the rest of us off, but won't tackle tax evasion that could raise more than enough money to fund the NHS. 

The branch meeting reflected discussions between stewards and members across Oxfordshire trusts where the majority opinion expressed is that the offer does not address the issue of recent pay cuts and low pay, and opens the door to further cuts.

A delegate to the Women's and also the Black Members conference reported wide spread dissatisfaction on the conference floors at Unison Head of Health Christine MCAnea's announcement that the offer was "the best that could be got through negotiations".  Our delegate reported that members could not understand why the action had been called off for such a poor offer when there was growing support for the strikes.

Even those set to benefit most from the pay offer have expressed the opinion that the deal should be rejected as "pathetic".  Press headlines have focused on the lowest paid getting 5%; however this would apply to just 3,000 staff in England.

As the general election approaches the government is increasingly vulnerable to pressure.  The last thing it wants is disruption drawing attention to the scale of dissatisfaction with the state of NHS pay and crisis in the NHS. We have the best opportunity in years to win real changes - a strong vote to reject is essential to making the most of this opportunity.

Faced with a 12 hour strike the government approached the unions to make an offer in return for the strike being called off.  This shows the power the two previous strikes had to force the government to talk when it previously had refused and imposed a pay freeze for most NHS staff for this year and next.  Members will now be balloted as to whether they accept or reject the government's offer.

Intitial reactions from branch members has been to question the union leadership calling off the action.  Many report the mood for the strike being good and believe the planned strikes could have forced the government to make greater concessions. 

The branch is in the process of organising a branch meeting to allow members to discuss the offer and next steps in the pay campaign, including whether to launch a campaign for a cost of living supplement for all staff living in Oxfordshire.

The pay offer ony offers a very small rises for the lowest paid - at the expense of highest pay bands (detail at end with what the new payscale would look like if accepted).  However there is nothing to address the substantial losses staff have suffered bearing the brunt of government imposed austerity. For the majority of staff there is still no pay rise this year, and for those who got the 1% consolidated, they will lose it at the end of the year, so in effect their pay will be the same next year if this deal is accepted - this will affect around 30% of NHS staff.  For most staff the what is on offer the equivalent of a paltry 1% increase for the 2 years 2104-2016.  The offer also serves the purpose of dividing the opposition to the government policy of keeping NHS wages depressed.

Not content with years of pay freezes that have seen NHS pay shrink by at least 10% the government is now seeking to cut wages further by asking the Pay Review Body to change the pay system that would see wages reduced further.

The government has attacked annual increments as "unfair and unaffordable" and said that unsocial hours payments "do not reflect modern practice".

The government has suggested options for changing unsocial hours premia which include:

  •     changing the times defined as ‘unsocial’
  •     paying Saturdays at plain time
  •     lowering the rates for Sunday and Bank Holidays

If annual increments are abolished we can be sure that staff will not then be moved to the top of the current bands as the aim is to reduce the NHS pay bill further, meaning more cuts for exerienced staff if past increments are removed to equalise pay across bands.

These attacks can only undermine recruitment and retention of NHS staff.

The current pay dispute is essential to defeating future attacks on pay.  Support the strikes on 29th January and 25th February.