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2014 Health Care Service Group Conference
27 November 2013

Conference notes that for several years NHS staff have seen their pay squeezed by more than 10% in real terms.

Two years of a virtual pay freeze were followed by a miserable 1% for 2013.

Since 2010 essential living costs have increased out of all proportion to our members’ pay. Electricity prices have jumped by 22-39%, Gas by 17 to 45%, Food by 19%, Water by 20% and Transport by over 19%, even the cost of posting a letter has risen by 56%.

The disparity between pay and the real cost of inflation has had a huge detrimental impact on our members’ living standards.

In its submission to the Pay Review Body, UNISON has made a strong case to arrest the sharp decline in NHS Staff living standards, including the introduction of a living wage.

The union’s evidence highlights the impact of the huge structural change and the pay restraint on staff morale and motivation. It also stresses the acknowledged relationship between low pay and the quality of care.

The Department of Health and NHS employers have argued that NHS staff should not even receive the paltry 1% offered by the Chancellor George Osborne. In addition, the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt has called for an end to automatic incremental pay progression.

At the same time it is noted that significant surpluses have been made in health economies and that in 2012 nearly £3 billion was returned to the treasury from the health budget.

Conference believes that the time has come to organise a campaign to support our members’ right to decent pay.

Therefore Conference instructs the Health Service Group Executive to:

1)call on all Regional Health Committees to co-ordinate pay campaigns with branches. The campaign should build the confidence of members to resist further erosion of pay. Any campaign should make the argument within communities for decent pay in the NHS;

2)call on health branches to establish branch pay campaign committees. Committees should draw up action plans for a pay campaign within the branch and local community;

3)produce materials to support the argument that pay has a direct relationship with the quality of care;

4)urge branches to prepare the membership to respond, including, if necessary, taking industrial action (within the union’s rules) should the Pay Review Body attack the Agenda for Change pay structure and/or fail to offer an acceptable pay award.