Government accused of ‘cavalier and reckless’ approach to pay
Pay deal disparity between nurses and other public sector staff – who have been offered rise of at least 6% – branded ‘an unnecessary slap in the face’
The government has been accused of a ‘cavalier and reckless’ approach to public sector wages after nurses were left behind in this year’s pay awards.
‘Unjust pay disparity’ must be addressed, says RCN chief
In a scathing letter to health and social care secretary Steve Barclay the RCN said the unjust pay disparity between nursing staff and other professions needs to be addressed now to avoid further unrest among nursing staff.
It comes after prime minister Rishi Sunak announced the government would accept independent pay review body recommendations for 2023-24 in full, leading to a pay award of at least 6% for millions of public sector workers.
It means that junior doctors, consultants, dentists and teachers will receive a pay increase of between 6% and 10%, while nurses and other staff on Agenda for Change (AFC) contracts received a 5% pay rise after accepting a pay deal negotiated directly with unions through the NHS Staff Council.
6% offer to other public sector workers has left nurses feeling disrespected
In the letter RCN general secretary Pat Cullen wrote: ‘This highlights the long-term disparity, pay erosion and disadvantage of the nursing profession, and is, frankly, unjust.
‘Why does nursing deserve the least? Particularly, given nursing is one of the most diverse and female-dominated professions in the public sector.
‘The government has very clearly signalled it does not recognise or value their public service in the NHS compared with other professions.
‘This government’s divisive approach to public sector pay is both cavalier and reckless at a time of the greatest industrial unrest the NHS has ever seen.’
Ms Cullen accused the government of ‘disrespecting’ nursing staff delivering essential services and called for them to act now.
Frustration over failure to negotiate a better deal
Many nurses took to social media in frustration, but while some targeted disappointment at the government others said that unions were to blame after negotiations led to a deal many nursing staff rejected.
In recent months both Unison and the RCN have called for the NHS Pay Review Body to be scrapped and argued that direct negotiations with the government would be more fruitful.
Government defends its decision
In response to challenges that the pay awards were unfair for AfC staff Downing Street said nurses on AfC contracts were seeing uplifts in pay that went beyond the 5% headline figure and ‘it would be wrong to look at just the 5% figure’.
A spokesperson added: ‘Through the AfC deal, we’ve put more money into the pockets of healthcare workers this year than would have been the case with a 6% consolidated rise.’
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