NHS staff participate in demonstration over pay dispute

NHS staff

NHS frontline staff, ambulance professionals and support staff who are members of the trade union GMB are today (Friday 3 August 2018) participating in a lunchtime demonstration in a dispute over pay.

GMB members, as well as employees across other NHS employers, are conducting the demonstration between 12.30pm and 2pm outside the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

The demonstration concerns a three-year pay deal that was agreed between NHS Employers and 14 NHS trade unions in June 2018. The deal, originally proposed in March 2018, was structured to provide an immediate £2,000 increase for lower-paid NHS staff, to take their earnings above the living wage, which is currently set at £8.75 an hour.

In the first year of the deal, NHS staff currently at the top of their pay band are due to receive a 3% pay rise, which will accumulate over the three years to 6.5%. The pay deal also promises higher percentage increases for those lower down in their respective pay bands. These will be delivered through a combination of cost of living pay rises and faster incremental increases.

The deal also offers higher starting salaries for NHS staff, meaningful pay rises on promotion, and faster progression through most pay bands.

The demonstration is to support NHS employees who believe that this agreed pay proposal has not yet fully materialised, and who are fearful that the deal may not come to fruition.

GMB members originally voted 87% in favour of rejected the NHS’ pay offer. With this in mind, GMB is currently running a consultative ballot to find out what industrial action its members wish to pursue.

Gary Palmer, regional organiser at GMB, said: “NHS staff are underwhelmed and angry from a pay deal implementation different to what had been promised by the government. It is now intensifying the poor morale feeling over what was a pitiful deal for GMB members and NHS staff in the first place.

“GMB have said all along that the devil was in the detail. The [Conservative] government has from the start made this the most convoluted and headline grabbing deal it could purposely use to trick people into voting for it.

“The deal is now unravelling throughout NHS Hospitals and Ambulance Service. Not only will many NHS staff find themselves worse off at the end of the three-year period, with the forecasted [retail price index] outstripping their basic pay rise, but they are now equally facing potential short-term pay rise percentages detriments and lengthy waits for promised increases as new details emerge on what they are really to receive and when.

“GMB’s #itsanofromus demo is about saying if you feel cheated, lied to, undervalued, or just plain angry, come along on Friday to tell the GMB about it. Let your protest be known along with many others and begin to organise and work with us to force a possible new pay review, which might see hardworking, over-stretched NHS professionals and support workers get a real fair pay deal for once.”

Danny Mortimer, chief executive officer at NHS Employers, added: “The Agenda for Change deal is a positive one for the NHS, following seven years of pay restraint. It sees an additional 2% being invested [the] in NHS pay-bill over each of the next three years, benefiting more than a million health staff in England.

“The investment improves pay for our lowest paid employees and improves starting salaries to ensure we remain attractive in a competitive jobs market, [while] also acknowledging our longest serving [employees].

“The deal was agreed with and significantly endorsed by all but one trade union, and [while] the [Royal College of Nursing] is responding to some concerns regarding its own communications, the work with trade unions is now focused on moving forwards with the implementation of the agreed deal.”