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Tuesday, March 3, 2015, Issue 87

Members vote to accept pay offer

vote yes

SoR members in England have voted overwhelmingly in favour of accepting the pay offer from the Department of Health of a 1% consolidated pay rise for all staff up to point 42 from April 2015. The government has also confirmed its commitment to the NHS Pay Review Body. 

Paul Bromley, London regional officer, explains: “We are now awaiting the results from the other trades unions’ consultations which conclude on 2 March and will be reported at the Staff Council on 9 March. 

“Given the result of the consultation, the SoR will not be taking further industrial action in England. However, if there is no movement in the position in Northern Ireland then 13 March is the likely date four further industrial action.” 

Richard Evans, the SCoR’s CEO, comments: “This is an extraordinary result for those unions that took part in industrial action, and the negotiating team should rightly be pleased with the result which followed many hours of negotiation with the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. 

“However, there are many who say the offer is unfair on those at the top of the pay bands and that it is bad for career progression. We agree. During the collective negotiations, the team did all they could to ensure a result for all members, but Mr Hunt would not be pushed further. 

“We will be using the results of the consultation as part of the evidence when we next submit to the Pay Review Body. This does not end here.” 

Paul Moloney, the Society’s manager of industrial relations, reviews what has been achieved: 

1. A consolidated increase that is twice the current rate of inflation as measured by the CPI, so actually exceeding the objective we set at the outset of achieving an increase in line with inflation.

2. For the first time in many years, the purchasing power of members’ income has improved. This is in stark contrast to recent years since the last election when it has declined by up to 15% or, over the longer term, when it has only maintained its position. Of course, the improvement in purchasing power is modest, but it has been achieved without any threat to the vast majority of members’ incremental progression. The significance of this should not be lost. 

3. Throughout the campaign, the government has insisted that only a non-consolidated increase was possible and only if we agreed to give up increments for everyone for a year. Increments, on average, are worth around 3% to members so the real success of our campaign should be measured in three areas:

• An increase higher than inflation.

• The preservation of increments.

• The increase will be consolidated.

4. Add to this the commitment given to the Independent Pay Review Body process for the future and the fact that we have proved that the threat to sack 10,000 frontline health workers if our campaign was successful was just that – an idle and unsubstantiated threat – and we can claim that ‘No Raise No Rays’ has to one of the most successful campaigns in our history. 

But there is more. Let’s think back to 20 October and the day we had the courage to strike on our own as part of the campaign that would eventually see 15 unions taking part. Who will forget that day, when thousands of members stood up, not just for a fair pay increase, but also for radiography and the profession in general? 

The homemade banners (yes, we did not get the materials quite right!) and the tweets and Facebook messages united members from all parts of our membership under the ‘No Raise No Rays’ banner and even encouraged non-members to join – we increased membership by more than 400 in the weeks afterwards. 

It was this determination and, above all, the professionalism of members who managed to combine to make a strong stand whilst still putting patients first, that has finally concentrated the minds of politicians, and particularly that of Jeremy Hunt. 

It was this pressure that has meant, in an election year, that Mr Hunt has stopped counting financial figures and started thinking more of voting figures. 

And it was this same determination that ensured that the SoR was at the centre of the discussions that took place with the Secretary of State. Unusually and unexpectedly, he chose to negotiate only with those unions whose members were on strike and not with those, such as the RCN and the CSP, whose members did not support the strike action. This meant we were instrumental in ensuring that the concerns of our members were ultimately listened to at the highest level in government. 

We will finally claim success when members in Northern Ireland are also given an offer in line with this one and we will forcibly make the case for fairness for those in senior positions in our evidence to the next pay review, but members should take pride in winning what was the most important dispute in our history and winning, not just for themselves, but for their patients and for the NHS. 

The slogan ‘Now we have a raise, we have rays’ is not quite so catchy, but nevertheless it tells everyone that we won! 

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