The national NHS employers have approached the NHS unions, including UNISON, asking for agreement to change Agenda for Change terms and conditions.
Employers want the changes as part of strategy of cutting the wage bill to meet the government's demands for £20 billion cuts before 2015.
Employers want to:
- cut sick pay by not paying unsocial hours payments staff currently get
- set targets for staff and remove increments if they don't meet them
- "reprofile jobs" , which if accepted, would allow them to change the pay bands within a service
Employers have warned that if unions do not accept the changes they will consider moving away from Agenda for Change in favour of local bargaining. In the South West NHS employers have formed a "pay cartel" to try and enforce worse terms on staff in Devon and Cornwall. This has lead to a serious dispute between health workers and their bosses.
UNISON is in the process of consulting members about whether they would prefer to accept a weakening of the national pay agreement or wish to reject the employers attempt to cut wages.
Already PCT stewards have met and agreed to reject any worsening of pay. They have done this in the context of the third year of a pay freeze and after pensions contributions have been increased.
As with pensions there is concern that caving in to demands to accept cuts will lead to further demands.