You get what you fight for

Unite, quite rightly, has rejected the three year pay offer out of hand. The attached Unite response highlights the increasing costs of essential goods; the weakness of the ‘re-opener’ clause; the damage of pay cuts to morale, recruitment and retention; and rejects the false argument that public sector pay causes inflation.

We’re not balloting – our Health Sector National Committee agreed unanimously that the offer wasn’t good enough to put to our members. Unite has written to the NHS Employers on behalf of Unite, RCM, SoCP, BOS, GMB and BDS seeking further discussion on the offer (and making the very valid point that this offer wasn’t reached under the aegis of the NHS Staff Council and we don’t consider ourselves party to it).

We may not be balloting – but that doesn’t mean doing nothing. Every workplace rep has been asked to call briefing/consultation meetings with members. Reps needing a flyer to advertise workplace meetings night want to look at the Unite poster.  It’s really important that we make members aware of just how bad this pay offer is – and start to build organised opposition.

In my own Trust, we had our pay meeting today. There was a unanimous view that three years of pay cuts isn’t a very good deal! All of us believed that Unite was right to reject this – and this is the position that will be fed back to our negotiators.

One person in the meeting asked if we shouldn’t accept the 2.75%, because of the threats to stage the award if we don’t. My response was that 2.75% isn’t on the table anyway – it’s being offered only as part of a three year package of pay cuts. I also said my view was that we had made a mistake in allowing the 1.9% offer to stand last year (however reluctantly). It’s because we caved in without serious opposition last year that Brown’s come back for more this year. This time round, we need to do better. After debate, the meeting agreed.

One member there – an active trade unionist for a good few decades – talked about the fights against a Tory Government in the early 80’s, and how inspiring it had been when health workers stood together. Another member has a partner who is an activist in PCS. We talked about the tremendous action from public sector workers last week, and the need for unity across public sector unions.

We ended the meeting by concluding that you get what you fight for. Trade unionists have always known that. We can accept three years of pay cuts – or we can fight for something better.

Finally, my own revised briefing document on the pay offer is here. Thanks to Becca for spotting that the offer is even worse than I’d realised.


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