Author: Paul Moloney, Industrial Relations Manager
The Society of Radiographers, alongside sister unions in the NHS, are determined to make NHS pay a central issue of the next few weeks and months. Paul Moloney, SoR Industrial Relations Manager explains why.
The recent General Election produced a result that no one had expected at the start of the campaign. In the immediate aftermath senior members of the cabinet blamed the poor showing by the Conservative party on the cap imposed on public sector pay, including NHS pay.
The impact of the pay cap, which has limited NHS pay increases to 1%, has been felt by members who have seen their purchasing power decrease by around 14% over the last few years.
Members have continued to take a pragmatic and professional approach to this and have supported the pay review process which means increases are decided by an Independent Pay Review Body (IPRB).
Even this year with a pay increase of less than half the rate of inflation, members confirmed their ongoing support for the IPRB process during debates at ADC.
When members took strike action in 2014/15 this was because the Government had refused to implement the recommendation of the IPRB, not because the recommendation was unacceptable.
There is no doubt, however, that the existence of the pay cap has influenced the IPRB which has not been prepared to recommend more than the limit set by government, leading some to question whether the process is truly independent.
Now is the time, however, for us to have an influence over Government and ensure they hear the demands for the cap to be lifted.
We will therefore be asking members over the next few weeks to write to their MP asking them to raise with the Chancellor of the Exchequer the need to remove the pay cap and crucially to commit to centrally funding the recommendation from the IPRB.
Although the next pay increase is not due until April 2018, it is essential that pressure is put on MPs of all parties now so that the changes can be included in the next budget.
Our approach to pay has always been sensible and is based on what members tell us through ADC motions.
We simply want to see UK pay rates that will ensure members in Northern Ireland catch up with colleagues elsewhere, that increase at least in line with inflation with an additional payment that begins to make up what members have lost during the years of austerity.
We believe the current weakness of the governing party does give us an opportunity to have our case heard. So members should look out for our suggested draft letter to MPs which will be available soon with advice on how to ensure your MP receives it.
We will also be supporting TUC activity on this including a lobby of Parliament and rally which will take place on Tuesday 17 October and an RCN event on 6 September.
Further details of these two events will be posted on the website as they become available.