Friday, 31 August 2012

Dr Liam Fox's response to TUC letter on Regional Pay

The following link takes you to Liam Fox's response to South West TUC's letter on Regional Pay and the South West NHS Pay Cartel:

The South West TUC's Pay Fair campaign website is at this link:

Local Government Pay - We need members' views

UNISON is already beginning negotiations with the local government employers for the pay claim for next year 2013-14.

After 3 years of a pay freeze local government workers have lost about 13% of their pay. Many local government workers, including North Somerset Council workers earning under £21,000 did not receive the £250 pay increase promised by George Osborne. Inflation has been high over the period of our pay freeze, although is falling currently. Given that councils have had their funding cut it is unlikely that UNISON can negotiate a pay increase to make up for our loss of pay over the last 3 years, unless of course members are prepared to take sustained industrial action. As a result UNISON negotiatiors would like to negotiate A substantial flat rate increase on all scale points as a step towards the longer term objective of restoring pay levels and achieving the Living Wage as the bottom NJC spinal column point and they need UNISON members views on this.

The branch would also like your views on how much that flat rate increase should be? Should it be £500, £1000, £2000 or another figure?

The NJC Pay Claim 2013-14 document contains further information, which I advise you to read.

You may also want to consider that almost 20% of North Somerset Council staff earn an hourly rate which is below the living wage, and of these 92% are female and 8% are male. As a result a flat rate increase of £2000 would take all North Somerset Council staff currently earning close to the minimum wage up to the living wage.

Please let us know what you think about a flat rate pay increase, and what that figure should be by emailing the branch office with your response by 30th September:

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Lobby of Weston Hospital Board Meeting - 4th September 7.30 to 10.30 am

North Somerset UNISON, which represents health care workers at Weston General Hospital, will be lobbying the Board Meeting of Weston Area Health Trust from 7.30 to 10.30 am on 4th September, to demonstrate their opposition to regional pay in Weston super Mare. Weston Hospital is part of a consortium of 20 South West NHS Trusts who have joined together to look at ways of reducing staff pay by up to 15% by moving away from national NHS terms and conditions to regional and local pay rates. This means that a nurse in Weston super Mare will be paid less than a nurse in Birmingham for doing exactly the same job. A move to regional pay will have a devastating effect on the local economy and on patient care across North Somerset. Later on the same day UNISON will also have a stall on Weston High Street asking members of the public if they think pay cuts for NHS workers are fair, and asking them to sign a petition opposing regional pay for Health Care workers in North Somerset.

Meet on Grange Road at either hospital entrance at any time between 7.30 am and 10.30 am on 4th September - we'll provide the banners.

Or come and see us between 12 noon and 4 pm on 4th September on Weston High Street - near the Italian Gardens.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

South West NHS Pay Cartel - Latest Documents

The South West NHS Pay Consortium have now created their own website:

Yesterday they released 2 new discussion documents outlining in more detail some of the things they are looking at to cut staff terms and conditions.

Addressing pay, terms and conditions discussion document 22.8.12

Economic, financial and service challenges discussion document 22.8.12

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Festival for A Future that Works - 22nd September

South Gloucestershire UNISON has organised an event on Saturday 22 September 2012 at Kingswood Park in Bristol. The festival will highlight the cuts to services in the South Gloucestershire council area with the general public and those who work for the council, highlight the alternatives and build for the TUC demo in London on 20 October 2012.

The branch has organised speakers, music, kids entertainment, food, refreshments and will also be involving community groups and much more.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Enhancements - Latest News

UNISON has been negotiating with North Somerset Council over reductions to enhancements for over 2 years. Recently the council have agreed to put on hold any changes to the level of enhancements currently being paid in acknowledgement of the fact that there has been no cost of living pay award for council staff since April 2009. The changes proposed to bring the level of enhancements paid for evening, weekend, Bank Holiday, working etc more in line with other local authorities will not now be progressed until the beginning of the financial year in which a cost of living pay award is agreed.  The current local government pay freeze ends in March 2013, and from April 2013 pay increases will be capped at 1%. The Council have also agreed that they will provide a level of protection for staff, for a fixed period, where the reduced level of enhanced pay would result in a 'pay cut'.  This is the best deal achievable through negotiation. We will shortly be writing to all members affected by this to get their views.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Say No to Regional Pay

Weston Area Health Trust has recently paid £10,000 to join a group of South West NHS Trusts who are now working together to look at ways of reducing staff pay, terms and conditions. This would see them break away from Agenda for Change – the NHS national terms and conditions, and move to regional pay, which means that health care workers in the South West would have worse pay and conditions than in other parts of the country.

UNISON is firmly opposed to any attempt to undermine Agenda for Change and the national bargaining process, which underpins it. Not only will this punish health care workers with further cuts, it will have a devastating impact on the local and regional economies, as well as driving down NHS standards of patient care.

What you can do

Use the template letter to:
Email your MP by using the following link:
Write to your MP
Weston super Mare MP - John Penrose, 24-26 Alexandra Parade, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, BS23 1QX
North Somerset MP – Dr Liam Fox, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA         
Write to your Councillor
Find out who your Councillor is at:
Send your letter to your Councillor at: North Somerset Council, Town Hall, Weston super Mare, BS23 IUJ

Attend the monthly meetings at the hospital – next meetings are:

  • 25th September at 12.30 at Weston Hospital, Waverley Room 
  • 24th October at 12.30 at Weston Hospital, Waverley Room
  • 6th November at 12.30 at Weston Hospital Lecture Theatre
  • 29th November at 12.30 at Weston Hospital, Waverley Room

Attend UNISON's lobby of North Somerset Council's Meeting on 25th September at 5.30 pm outside the Town Hall in Weston super Mare, where a motion against regional pay will be debated.

Sign the petition by following this link:

Get more information from the TUC's Pay Fair Campaign website:


Why Regional Pay Doesn't Add Up

We all want to see fair pay for the nurses, teachers and others who work hard to deliver good public services. But on top of pay freezes, the government now wants to change the way pay is set in the public sector.

Instead of a fair, transparent national system, they want local or regional pay that would mean different rates for people doing exactly the same jobs, just because of where they live.

Here are just five reasons why it doesn't add up:

It's unfair

Regional pay could mean two nurses or teachers with the same skills and experience being paid differently in two different places - even though they're doing the same job. People should be paid based on their skills and the work they do, not where they live. Low pay could make it harder for poorer regions to attract and keep the skilled public sector workers they need.

Regional pay could also work against equal pay. Great progress has been made in the public sector in narrowing the pay gap between women and men. For instance, the Agenda for Change system in the NHS was designed to deliver equal pay. Bringing in local or regional pay could unravel this progress.

It's bad for the economy

Public sector workers are already feeling the pinch from pay freezes, the VAT rise and inflation. Regional pay would mean holding back pay for even longer in the parts of the country that are struggling the most.

Holding back public sector pay will take money out of public sector workers' pockets that they would otherwise spend in local shops and businesses. Taking demand out of the economy like this will hurt the private sector and widen the north-south divide.

It isn't backed up by evidence

The government has argued that public sector pay stops the private sector growing. In fact, there's no evidence to support this. There is an average of five people chasing every job vacancy, and up to 30 unemployed people per vacancy in some areas. It's the lack of demand in the economy, not the wages of nurses and teachers that is causing the problem.

It isn't what the private sector does

Most big private sector employers recognise that a national system is the fairest and most efficient way to set pay. In fact, companies like Waterstones, Greggs, Marks and Spencer, BT and Halfords all take the same sort of approach as the public sector: a national pay system with limited additions for London and the south east of England.

It's unpopular

According to a recent opinion poll only 28% of voters believe the idea of extending pay freezes for public sector workers outside of the south east and London would be fair. As few as 17% believe that real term pay cuts for public sector workers would help low pay regional economies. It's time that coalition MPs listened to their constituents, heard their concerns and put a stop to these damaging and divisive plans.