Plymouth NHS staff raising petition over pay
ANGRY health workers are preparing to show bosses they would not welcome a proposal to create a pay "cartel" in the South West which they fear would drive down wages.
Unions Unison, Unite, the RCN and GMB have been collecting signatures from city staff, patients and the public in a bid to oppose the 'South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium' made up of 20 NHS trusts in the South West – including Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust which runs Derriford – who formed to drive down wage costs.
They aim to present the petition to hospital bosses at the Trust Board meeting on Friday January 4.
The 'South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium' looks to break away from nationally agreed pay and conditions, unions say.
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A draft consortium document, leaked to The Herald at the end of 2012, states NHS employers are increasingly recognising the need to consider "further more radical changes to the pay and conditions of the workforce".
Suggestions include reductions in unsocial hours payments, increased working hours, cuts to annual leave and reductions in basic pay and cuts to sick pay.
And despite local pay deals recently being rejected by the Government, health chiefs have said they could still push ahead with imposing wage cuts on NHS staff in Plymouth.
Suzy Franklin, branch secretary at Derriford UNISON, said: "We now have over 2,000 signatures on the petition, mostly made up of staff from Derriford Hospital – it clearly shows the strength of feeling in the city.
"Following the Government's recommendation that cartels pull out it appears that nothing has changed and all cards are still on the table.
"So we are still all guns-a-blazing because this could still happen. It's very worrying.
"We can't see any light at the end of the tunnel unless they pull out of the cartel."
Following the Government's recommendation not to press ahead with regional pay Chris Bown, chairman of the south west consortium, said: "Existing legislation permits NHS trusts freedoms in how pay, terms and conditions are arranged at a local level.
"The South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium was established to explore ways in which these existing freedoms may be used to support sustainability in services and employment in the face of unprecedented challenges. This remains the case."
And Hein Scheffer, director of human resources and organisational development at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust said the board would "welcome" staff and union representatives at the meeting in January.
He said: "We have invited union representatives to attend the Trust Board in the past and value their feedback and input to the Board. We will welcome them to our meeting on January 4.
"We will consider the proposals put forward by the Consortium, taking into account the views of our staff and their union representatives, alongside service redesign proposals early in 2013."