Call for reforms to ‘critically undermined’ pay review bodies
TUC Congress urges change to how pay review bodies operate, including limiting the influence of government, more engagement with unions, and delivery of timely pay settlements
Pay review bodies must have an independent voice, free from political interference, to play an effective role in determining fair pay for health workers and others, according to leading public sector unions.
Members at the TUC Congress this week called for fundamental reforms to the way review bodies operate, which would help bring an end to bitter pay disputes.
Strike action calls into question the effectiveness of pay review bodies
Pay review bodies have a role in determining the wages of more than one million public sector workers in the UK, including nurses and other NHS staff.
However, their effectiveness has been called into question in light of recent pay disputes leading to widespread strike action by nurses, teachers and other key workers.
RCN members have been among those to voice their concerns, voting in favour of withdrawing from the NHS Pay Review Body (RB) process at the college’s annual congress in June this year.
Unions want overhaul of pay review body process
Delegates at the TUC Congress in Liverpool voted in favour of a motion calling for key changes to the way review bodies work.
These include ensuring review bodies can give weight to all evidence put before them and ‘not just the short-term affordability of government’.
The motion also called for enhanced engagement with unions, measures to ensure review bodies were able to deliver timely pay settlements and look at multi-year deals, and to limit the influence of government on appointments to pay review bodies.
‘Governments have sought to dilute their recommendations’
The motion, put forward by the FDA union, stated that pay review bodies were supposed to reduce conflict over pay but claimed their role had been ‘critically undermined’.
FDA general secretary Dave Penman told the conference: ‘I doubt there is a union in this room that is satisfied with how they operate.
‘They are meant to independently assess evidence and try to find a fair outcome that commands the confidence of government, employers and unions. Instead, successive governments of all colours have sought to restrict their remit and dilute their recommendations.’
Mr Penman acknowledged that many would like to see pay review bodies abolished altogether in favour of collective bargaining. He continued: ‘Whether they stay or go, we need to ensure that if they are making decisions that have a fundamental impact on our members’ working lives we have done everything in our power to get the best possible outcomes.’
NHS Pay Review Body process under review
The motion commits the TUC to working with other unions to develop a ‘model template’ for pay review bodies to ensure they are fit for purpose.
Health unions were promised a review of the NHS RB process as part of the recent NHS pay settlement.
In a letter to NHS staff this summer, health and social care secretary Steve Barclay said he had invited organisations involved in setting pay to share their views.
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