UNISON’s health conference delegates today
voted in support of the proposed three-year pay
deal that is currently out to consultation with
the union’s health members.
George Barron, vice-chair of the health service
group executive, told conference: “What we have
done is actually quite remarkable. We have come so
During a lively debate, delegates discussed the
proposed framework, which comes with an extra
The motion in support for the NHS pay deal and
Agenda for Change reform noted the work the union
has done to “change the story on NHS pay” and
offer members an alternative to the 1% maximum of
the past eight years.
It notes that the deal meets other key
- the abolition of band 1;
- removing overlaps on pay bands;
- fewer pay points and quicker progression
towards the agreed rate for the job.
Mr Barron said that the proposed deal would
help members “who have been left struggling day
in, day out, week in, week out” as the government
stuck to its 1% pay cap.
“We’re dealing with the government, not Arthur
Daley on the street corner. This is the best deal
through negotiation. It’s a good deal. The right
deal. Let’s make it and get it in members pay
pockets by June or July.”
Sam Kimberley, of University Hospitals
Birmingham, told her fellow delegates: “There’s no
doubt that this offer is not enough. No one would
accept that it’s all that we are worth.
“But it does break through the pay cap, which
was set to go on and on. And the biggest thing: it
delivers for the lowest paid.”
And in supporting the motion, she added: “We
have many colleagues on bands 1, 2 and 3 who are
amongst the most poorly paid. They will get a big
improvement to their living standards.
Have your say on NHS pay
“I don’t stand to benefit much at all, because
I am at the top of my band. But searching my
conscience, do I vote for what is best for me, or
do I vote for what is best for all members?
“It’s a starting point. I don’t think we could
have got any better out of a Conservative
Mark Burn of Greater Manchester mental health
voted against what he called a “divisive” offer.
“Some people get a reasonably good deal. But
6.5% for people at the top of bands – we have lost
more than that over the last eight years of
austerity,” he said.
He also feared that “over-zealous managers”
would work to keep people at the lowest band
But young delegates noticeably supported the
One, from Cymru/Wales, said: “Without this pay
deal we would have nowhere to go. This is about
supporting the future for our members.”
Another praised the fact that the pay increase
was being funded with targeted cash, which would
avoid putting a financial burden on trust budgets.
“This is huge. The NHS is struggling to recruit
and retain staff. The offer will go a long way to
making people think about a career in the NHS
more positively. And it relieves some of the
stress felt by all of us.”
UNISON senior vice president Gordon McKay, from
the Ayrshire and Arran health branch, reminded
conference that just nine months ago prime
minister Theresa May had “made clear her contempt
for NHS workers” in asserting that the 1% cap
would remain in place until 2020, while the pay
review body had seriously considered a 0% pay
award last year.
“The union said: ‘No more. No more zero, no
more 1%’. We said we have one priority, to smash
the government’s pay cap, and this union did it,”
he told delegates.
“This is the biggest NHS pay rise in 15 years,
which makes a real difference to people’s lives.
Abolishing band one puts thousands in people’s
pockets, mainly women, who have never had it
Mr McKay said that the decision to scrap band 1
in Scotland several months ago had already made
And George Barron added that Scotland was
“living proof” of the benefits of scrapping band
“This is not the end,” he said, “it’s the
Branches are now urged to encourage full
participation by health members in the
If they accept the framework, conference agreed
to continue to call for pay increases after three
years, which will catch up with the value lost
since the financial crisis.