Unison’s Conference eventually decided to put the three-year pay cut to a ballot of members, with no recommendation. A comment from Nick Holden, Service Group Executive member, was, ‘No one no-one seemed to think the offer was good enough. The disagreements were ones of tactics’. This is very far from the ringing endorsement that Unison’s national negotiators will have been wanting to see.
A Nursing Times online poll of more than 2,400 NT readers found 71% said they did not want to accept the offer and 75% were unhappy with the idea of a multi-year deal.
The Unite (TGWU) Health Committee is already recommending rejection.
The Unite (Amicus) Health Sector National Committee is meeting on 22nd April, with every likelihood of a recommendation to reject the deal. My own view is that this offer isn’t even fit to be put to the members. The strongest negotiating position would be to say to the Government, ‘We’re not having it – make us a serious offer’.
The smaller professional unions were not part of the original Unison/RCN deal, and were quite rightly angry about the divisive tactics on show, and the complete inadequacy of the offer.
So, where now? There are good prospects now for kicking out this rotten offer. There are better prospects yet if we make common cause with the NUT, PCS and UCU members who are on strike on 24th April.
Gordon Brown got away with slashing public sector pay last year. The lack of a serious fight in 2007 gave him the confidence to try now for a further three years of pay cuts. With price increases in fuel, food, imports, and – for a growing number of people – mortgages, this is the time for all public sector unions to make a stand.