Daniel Poulter says government is working with trade unions to maintain national pay agreement

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Health minister Daniel Poulter has spoken out against the regional NHS pay cartel in the South West of England.

Nineteen health trusts in the region are planning to withdraw from the national agreement on NHS pay, and set their own wage levels – a move unions fear will lead up to 88,000 NHS staff facing a 15% pay cut, and changes to holiday and other entitlements.

Unions have been campaigning hard against the plans, but two weeks ago in Parliament the proposals were backed by the region’s Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs.

Unions will be heartened, though, by Daniel Poulter yesterday criticising the “heavy-handed approach” of the cartel and saying the government was working with unions to maintain the national agreement.

Glasgow North East’s Labour MP William Bain kicked off the debate by accusing the minister of “sitting back and doing nothing while the national character of our health service is being destroyed through regional pay agreements.”

Poulter responded by blaming the previous government for allowing trusts the freedom to set their own pay levels outside national frameworks, but added: “This government are working closely with NHS employers and the trade unions to make sure that we maintain ‘Agenda for Change’ and national pay frameworks as fit for purpose, and we are very pleased with that.”

Southport’s Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh then asked: “Does the Minister recognise that the recent progress in national negotiations over greater flexibility is very encouraging and makes the efforts of the South West consortium and other both disruptive and pointless, in context?”

Daniel Poulter replied: “We have had encouraging results from national pay negotiations at the recent NHS Staff Council, and unions are to consult their members on those results. There is general agreement that we need to maintain national pay frameworks, provided they are fit for purpose. I hope my hon. Friend will find that the south west pay consortium, which has been somewhat heavy-handed in the way that it has conducted its affairs, also sees the benefit of maintaining national pay frameworks. That is why we would like to see a quick resolution of the matter at a national level.”

Campaigners are planning a huge demonstration against regional pay in Bristol on Saturday, starting at 11am on College Green, followed by a rally in Castle Park at 12.30pm. More details here.

You can read UnionNews’s extensive coverage of the campaign against the regional pay cartel by typing in ‘cartel’ into our search engine.

 

 


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