Thursday, 27 September 2012

Weston Mercury article on Regional Pay Debate

Protests fall on deaf ears

Article by Tom Wright and James Franklin in today's Weston Mercury

PROTESTS have been held outside the Town Hall and Weston General Hospital over the potential introduction of regional pay in the NHS.

Dozens of people raised Unison placards and called for a change of policy ahead of a North Somerset Council meeting on Tuesday evening and Weston Area Health Trust (WAHT) AGM yesterday (Wednesday).

North Somerset Unison members are pushing for the trust to abandon plans to form part of a South West consortium along with 19 other health trusts.

The so-called postcode lottery could mean NHS staff in Weston are paid less than other areas of the country despite carrying out the same job, a spokesman said. She added in some cases staff could lose out by up to 15 per cent.

Labour councillor Richard Tucker called for the council to make a stand against the idea and to back Unison’s calls to pressure WAHT to change its policy, too.

Speaking at Tuesday’s full council meeting, he said: “Workers would be paid less on average than their colleagues in Birmingham or Southampton doing the same job – in short the break-up of what was in created in 1948 as the NHS.”

Labour colleague Catherine Gibbons added: “It would be unfair to suggest that people in the public sector should be paid less for choosing to work in a rural area and I believe North Somerset will be adversely affected.”

However, councillors voted against the motion by a ratio of 27 to nine.

The Unison spokesman said thousands of people could be affected by the regional pay consortium. She said: “In North Somerset there are 20,000 public sector workers. This is the largest employment sector in the district with just over a quarter of all employees.

“About 2,000 of these public sector employees work for the health trust.

“Public sector workers are already feeling the pinch from pay freezes, the VAT rise and inflation. The further loss of income for health care workers will impact on the North Somerset economy.

“Holding back public sector pay will take money out of public sector workers’ pockets that they would otherwise spend in local shops and businesses.”

A WAHT spokesman said no definite proposals on pay levels have been put forward.

She said: “The consortium and this trust believe the challenge can best be addressed by exploring options for change and flexibility around pay, terms and conditions, without the need for a large reduction in staff numbers that would undermine services and impact on patients and staff.”

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

UNISON's questions about the Pay Consortium for Weston Hospital's AGM

North Somerset UNISON members attended tonight's Annual General Meeting of Weston Area Health Trust. We submitted the following papers to Board members.

Questions for Hospital AGM

Handout for Hospital AGM

We asked 4 questions

Q. Who took the decision to join the Pay Consortium, and when was the decision taken?
A. The Board took the decision at their meeting in June, or possibly May - they will check and confirm.

Q. Has the Trust Board retained full authority for taking key decisions on involvement in the Pay Consortium, and if not which body has that authority been delegated to?
A. The Board will make the final decision on whether or not to implement the proposals of the Pay Consortium

Q. Which budget has the £10,000 joining fee come from?
A. The operational budget.

Q. Have the Trust received the letter from UNISON's Head of Health regarding the Pay Cartel and if so have they replied?
A. Yes, a reply was sent late last week.

We have requested answers in writing to all of our questions outlined in the document above and have been informed we will get these within the next few days.

Write to your Councillor about the South West NHS Pay Cartel

One of the Conservative councillors in last night's North Somerset Council debate on Regional Pay told the meeting that she had been contacted by many of her constituents who are concerned about the proposals of the South West Pay Cartel. This particular councillor did not vote to support the motion, but she did abstain.

Write to your Councillor to tell them what you think about regional pay and ask them how they voted in North Somerset Council's debate on regional pay on 25th September.

Find out who your Councillor is at:

Here's a template letter you can use, or you can write your own telling them about the impact on you.

Send your letter to your Councillor at: North Somerset Council, Town Hall, Weston super Mare, BS23 IUJ.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

North Somerset Council vote against Motion opposing Regional Pay

Tonight North Somerset Council debated a Motion opposing Regional Pay proposed by Labour councillor Richard Tucker. 9 councillors, including Labour, Green, Independent and Lib Dem got up to ensure that the motion was debated, but when Councillor Tucker asked for a named vote so that every public sector worker in North Somerset would know where their councillors stood on the matter, the Lib Dems didn't get up and so the named vote did not take place, and thanks to the massive Tory majority in North Somerset the Motion was voted against.

North Somerset Tories have shown precisely how they feel about public sector workers across the district, and public sector workers in turn must show how they feel about North Somerset Tories at the ballot box in 2015.

It is a huge disappointment for UNISON that Liberal Democrats, who nationally have opposed regional pay, did not use their votes to allow for a named vote, and also that 2 out of 3 of them went on to abstain from voting on the motion. Lib Dem councillor Mike Bell was absent from tonight's council meeting because he was at Lib Dem conference voting for a motion opposing regional pay - here's the link:

North Somerset UNISON members watched the debate from the public gallery and were joined by members of the local Labour and Green parties.

As far as the debate went Councillors Tucker, Gibbons, Leimdorfer, Davies and Willis spoke to support the Motion opposing Regional Pay. Councillor Willis went on to abstain in the vote.

Councillors Lake, Blatchford and Ashton (all Tory Executive members) spoke to oppose the motion and support Regional Pay.

In the end the vote was: 9 For, 27 Against, 8 Abstentions.

12 councillors sent their apologies.

North Somerset has 61 councillors.

Here is the list of councillors who stood up and voted for the motion opposing regional pay at tonight's meeting:

Richard Tucker, Labour, Weston East
Catherine Gibbons, Labour, Weston East
Bob Bateman, Labour, Weston South
Ian Parker, Labour, Weston South
Tom Leimdorfer, Green, Congresbury
Donald Davies, Independent, Pill
Geoff Coombs, Independent, Backwell
Deborah Yamanaka, Lib Dem, Wrington
Karen Barclay, Independent, Backwell

Here is a list of those 8 councillors who abstained, including a few brave Conservatives:

Roz Willis, Conservative, Weston Milton & Old Worle
Jan Barber, Conservative, Nailsea East
Phil Judd, Conservative, Weston North Worle
Linda Knott, Conservative, Clevedon South
Marcia Pepperall, Conservative, Weston North Worle
Mark Canniford, Lib Dem, Weston West
John Crockford-Hawley, Lib Dem, Weston West
Hugh Gregor, Independent, Winford

2 councillors were unable to vote or take part in the debate because they are NHS workers or the partners of NHS workers. These councillors were:

Debbie Stone, Labour, Weston South
Robert Payne, Lib-Dem, Weston West

The following councillors were absent from the meeting and sent apologies:

Mike Bell, Lib Dem, Weston Central
Andy Cole, Independent, Nailsea East
Ann Harley, Conservative, Banwell & Winscombe
Clare Kingsbury-Bell, Lib Dem, Weston Central
Reyna Knight, Conservative, Portishead Central
Alan McMurray, Conservative, Portishead South & North Weston
Tony Moulin, Independent, Yatton
John Norton-Sealey, Conservative, Clevedon Walton
David Poole, Conservative, Clarence & Uphill
Ian Porter, Conservative, Kewstoke
David Shopland, Independent, Clevedon East
Liz Wells, Conservative, Blagdon & Churchill

This means that it's very likely that 27 out of the 30 following were the 27 councillors who voted against the motion and therefore support regional pay:

Elfan Ap Rees, Conservative, Hutton & Locking
Nigel Ashton, Conservative, Gordano
Felicity Baker, Conservative, Portishead Redcliff Bay
Chris Blades, Conservative, Clevedon West
Jeremy Blatchford, Conservative, Nailsea North & West
Mary Blatchford, Conservative, Nailsea North & West
Peter Bryant, Conservative,Weston Clarence & Uphill
Charles Cave, Conservative,Wraxall & Long Ashton
Robert Cleland, Conservative,Weston South Worle
Bob Cook, Conservative,Wraxall & Long Ashton
Peter Crew, Conservative, Weston South Worle
Carl Francis-Pester, Conservative, Easton-in-Gordano
Stephen Fudge, Conservative, Weston Milton & Old Worle
Bob Garner, Conservative, Clevedon North
Colin Hall, Conservative, Clevedon Yeo
David Hitchins, Conservative, Weston South Worle
Jill Iles, Conservative, Yatton
David Jolley, Conservative, Portishead West
Anne Kemp, Conservative, Nailsea North & West
Tony Lake, Conservative, Banwell & Winscombe
Tim Marter, Conservative, Banwell & Winscombe
David Pasley, Conservative, Portishead Coast
Dawn Payne, Conservative, Weston East
Nick Pennycott, Conservative, Clevedon Central
Lisa Pilgrim, Conservative, Weston Milton & Old Worle
Terry Porter, Conservative, Hutton & Locking (Chairman)
Sonia Russe, Conservative, Weston North Worle
Arthur Terry, Conservative, Portishead East
Annabel Tall, Conservative, Yatton
Clive Webb, Conservative, Weston Clarence & Uphill

And 3 of the above 30 didn't put their hand up to vote for, against or abstain.

So if your councillor is on the list of those who voted against the motion and therefore support regional pay, or on the list of abstentions and apologies, why don't you write to them and try to change their mind by telling them what the impact will be on you, your family and your community.

10 Questions Weston Area Health Trust need to answer about the Pay Consortium

UNISON members will put the following questions to the Trust Board at their Annual General Meeting on 26th September.

1. Who took the decision to join the Pay Consortium, and when was the decision taken?

2. Has the Trust Board retained full authority for taking key decisions on involvement in the Pay Consortium, and if not which body has that authority been delegated to?

3. Which budget has the £10,000 joining fee come from?

4. The Annual Review says the Trust made surpluses of £3.6 million in 2011/12, £2.6 million in 2010/11 and £2.4 million in 2009/10. Why then is there a need for pay cuts?

5. The Annual review says the Trust intend to make £4.5 million of savings overall in 2012/13. How much does the Trust intend to save from the Pay & Conditions Consortium proposals?

6. Has the Trust considered alternative ways of making efficiency savings, e.g. reduced spend on agency staff and business consultants, opportunities for cost sharing, more efficient every day processes, procurement savings, environmental savings such as installation of solar panels to generate electricity to sell back to the grid?

7. The Annual review says that the Trust has invested £1 million into energy efficiency – how much does it expect to save from this investment?

8. Has the Pay Consortium undertaken an equality impact assessment of the proposals to cuts staff pay and conditions? It is really important that this is done at an early stage, so that those of the 28 proposals being considered, which would have a disproportionate impact on people with the protected characteristics (gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion / belief etc), are immediately eliminated from your considerations.

9. Has the Trust considered the impact on staff morale and consequently recruitment and retention of reducing pay and conditions, particularly at a time when the Trust is considering creating an Integrated Care Organisation and is trying to become a Foundation Trust? A move to regional pay may ultimately add to the pay bill through increased agency costs?

10.The Trust is no doubt aware of the connection between low income and poor health. Has the Trust considered the long-term impact on the region of lower incomes, poorer health outcomes and therefore increased pressure on the NHS?

Friday, 21 September 2012

Weston Hospital Lobbies over Regional Pay

Members of North Somerset UNISON, which represents workers at Weston General Hospital will be lobbying the Hospital's AGM next week and Trust Board Meetings over the next few months. The times and dates are as follows:

26th September at 5.30 pm - Lobby of Annual General Meeting - meet outside the Academy at the Hospital

2nd October from 7.30 am to 10.30 am - Lobby of Trust Board Meeting - meet on the road outside the Hospital

6th November from 7.30 am to 10.30 am - Lobby of Trust Board Meeting - meet on the road outside the Hospital

4th December from 7.30 am to 10.30 am - Lobby of Trust Board Meeting - meet on the road outside the Hospital

It's really important that as many hospital staff try to attend these lobbies, if only for 5 or 10 minutes, so that your employer can see how you feel about regional pay.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

North Somerset Council to debate Motion on Regional pay - 25th September

Labour councillor Richard Tucker will propose the following motion at the council's meeting on 25th September.

North Somerset UNISON members will be lobbying the meeting from 5.30 pm outside the Town Hall in Weston super Mare. If you think it's unfair that a nurse should be paid less in Weston super Mare than Birmingham then come along and show the councillors how you feel.

North Somerset UNISON have submitted a paper to councillors ahead of their meeting. You can read it here.

Here's the motion:

Regional and Local Public Sector Pay Council Motion

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the 2012 Budget the desire to introduce 'more market facing' public sector pay, leading to regional and local variation. Weston Area Health Trust is already part of a Consortium seeking to break away from national NHS terms and conditions. Regional and local variations could mean that local public sector workers would have worse pay and conditions than other parts of the country. This would make it harder to recruit and retain skilled staff. This region already has the least affordable houses outside London and the South East. The average hourly pay for workers in North Somerset is already below the national average and the district has been identified as being vulnerable to increased levels of poverty if there is further economic downturn.

Council resolves to oppose moves towards regional and localised public sector pay and to communicate its opposition to such plans to the government, local MPs, Weston Area Health Trust and other relevant organisations.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

UNISON, UNITE and RCN Lobby of Weston Hospital Board Meeting over Regional Pay

Members of North Somerset UNISON, UNITE and the RCN demonstrated at Weston General Hospital early this morning, against plans to introduce regional pay in the NHS across the South West. At lunch time members of North Somerset UNISON were on Weston High Street asking members of the public to sign a petition against Regional Pay. Here are a few pictures from the lobby.

Labour Councillor Richard Tucker joined us at today's lobby.

Here's some media coverage of today's lobby of Weston Hospital's Board meeting:

North Somerset UNISON Rep Gill Malakooti on BBC Points West - 7th September:

Christina Cook and Gill Malakooti on BBC Radio Bristol - 2 hours 10 minutes in:

Christina Cook on BBC Radio Somerset - 55 minutes in:

Bristol Evening Post:

Western Daily Press:

Weston Mercury:

Further Lobbies on the following dates:

25th September at 5.30 pm – UNISON Lobby of North Somerset Council meeting, where a motion against regional pay will be debated – meet outside the town hall in Weston super Mare

26th September at 5.30 pm - Lobby at Weston Hospital Annual General Meeting - meet outside the Academy

2nd October – Lobby of Weston Hospital Board Meeting, 7.30 am to 10.30 am

6th November – Lobby of Weston Hospital Board Meeting, 7.30 am to 10.30 am

4th December – Lobby of Weston Hospital Board Meeting, 7.30 am to 10.30 am