Unite’s Health Sector National Committee met today. This was an all day meeting, and I’ll do a longer report when time allows. There were two key areas of discussion, though.
The first of these was pay. This was a joint meeting – for the first time – of the lay activists representing former Amicus and TGWU members. The discussion was wide ranging. Ancillary workers from the T&G made clear their view that this is a poor deal for low paid health workers.
We elected a lay committee to take forward our work on pay: four lay members from the TGWU and four from Amicus. I’m one of those elected to represent Amicus. We reaffirmed our very clear and principled opposition to the three year deal. We’ll be writing to the Secretary of State or equivalent in the devolved countries and in England to state that we are now in dispute. We’ll be building a campaign for the re-opening of pay negotiations. This will include preparation for industrial action, and consultation with other public sector unions around joint action. The immediate task is building for the Day of Action on 18th July around the theme of ‘Cut My Pay: No Way’. While the focus of the day will be at larger regional centres, we will be supporting all activities organised by reps at local level.
The second area of debate was around our response to the Darzi report released on Monday (with the details of proposals on primary care due to be published tomorrow). Members in primary care talked about the chaos now sweeping across PCTs in England, as a direct result of the commissioner-provider split. We reaffirmed Union policy of opposition to social enterprise companies. We will be making a detailed response to Darzi’s proposals, with the response to be developed by lay members on the Health Sector National Committee, and agreed by the Committee as a whole. The meeting was very clear that our response will be determined by our existing policies of opposition to the processes of privatisation, fragmentation and ‘marketisation’ that are doing so much damage to the NHS.