Union anger as 1% pay increase denied to NHS workers

13 Mar 14
Unions threatened strike action today after it emerged that an annual pay increase for public sector workers would not be given to all NHS staff.

Public servants are to receive a pay rise of just 1% in 2014/15, with the most senior managers having their salaries frozen, ministers have confirmed.

But in the NHS, the 1% rise is being denied to those staff getting an incremental increase for time served. Around 600,000 health service staff are in line for an incremental rise (typically worth 3%, according to the Treasury) and will receive only this, and not the additional 1%. Those staff not getting an incremental increase will receive a 1% pay rise, as will contractor doctors and dentists.

Around 400 senior NHS managers, whose pay also falls under the Senior Salaries Review Body, will not receive an increase.

The Unite trade union said the government’s approach to NHS pay increases represented a ‘divide and rule’ tactic and warned of industrial action.

‘[Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt] is deliberately muddying the waters by trying to imply that the annual increment that staff receive, as they gain more skills to benefit patients throughout their careers, is part of the annual pay increase – it is not. It is despicable that Hunt has adopted such an underhand tactic,’ said Unite’s head of health Rachael Maskell.

‘We will be consulting with our members about the possibility of industrial action.’

Unison’s head of health, Christina McAnea, said it was a ‘disgrace’ that 70% of nurses and midwives would not get a pay rise this year.

‘Increments are designed to reflect the growing skills and experience of nurses and other healthcare workers and are closely linked to competency,’ she said. 

‘They are not a substitute for the annual pay rise that is needed to meet the increasing cost of living.’

But Dean Royles, chief executive of NHS Employers, warned that the pay hike would present a further test to NHS finances.

‘The evidence we gave to the review body said any rise would add to already significant cost pressures,’ he said.

‘Employers are recruiting more front line staff with no additional money and this is not sustainable. The simple fact is that the decision to have no annual pay increase for those already eligible for increments will help ensure that more staff remain in employment than would otherwise be the case.’

Today’s announcement follows the report of the independent pay review bodies in which they were asked to consider how a 1% rise might best be applied.

‘We need to continue with public sector pay restraint in order to put the nation’s finances back on a sustainable footing,’ said Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

‘We are delivering on our commitment to a one per cent pay rise for all except the most senior public sector workers.’

The 1% increase will be paid to armed forces personnel, most prison officers and judiciary staff.

For senior civil servants, Whitehall departments will be given the flexibility to determine how the 1% increase will be allocated across their workforce. Police and crime commissioners will not receive a pay increase.

There was not announcement today about teacher, police or local government pay.

Teachers’ pay is set by the academic year rather than the financial year and the teachers’ pay review body is expected to report by the end of May.

Police and local government pay are not covered by pay review bodies. Police pay is determined by the Police Negotiating Board and the home secretary and pay for council workers by local authorities and the National Joint Council.


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