Staff at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are to be balloted over possible strike action after being given no pay rise this year despite the significant rise in the cost of living, says UNISON today (Wednesday).
The workers provide an essential public service ensuring health and social care organisations in England meet safety standards and deserve to be fairly paid, the union says.
CQC staff – who inspect, monitor and regulate hospitals, care homes, GP and dental surgeries, as well as ambulance and mental health services – have endured years without a significant pay rise, and since the start of 2010 the value of their wages has fallen by almost 20%, says UNISON.
UNISON submitted a pay claim for a 5% pay increase with several other unions* in June. However, all but the very lowest paid staff have been told that they are subject to the public sector pay freeze and won’t get anything this year.
Last week inflation – measured by the consumer price index – was at 4.2%, the highest level for ten years, indicating that families across the UK are facing spiralling household costs.
CQC staff represented by UNISON have already shown by a clear majority that they are willing to take sustained action over their pay claim. They are to be formally balloted for action in the new year, with the ballot opening on 21 January.
The CQC is on course to underspend its budget during this financial year according to its own disclosures and should work with the government to ensure this money can be put towards a fair pay rise, says UNISON.
UNISON national officer Matt Egan said: “These workers help to ensure the most vulnerable people in society receive safe and good quality care.
“It’s only right that the work and value of CQC staff should be recognised with a fair pay offer, given there’s a challenging winter ahead and how essential they are to the safe, efficient functioning of the health and care sectors..
“CQC employees are dedicated to their essential roles, so action is very much a last resort. But staff have had enough of years of falling pay. It’s not too late for the employer and the government to find a way for workers to be given the wages they more than deserve.
“UNISON is happy to work with the CQC to help it make the case to the Department for Health and Social Care for why a proper pay rise is more than justified.”
Notes to editors
– Most CQC staff have been subject to a pay freeze although those on the very lowest grades earning less than £24,000 have been given an extra £250, as the government set out in its pay guidance.
– The CQC pay award covers the period 21 September 2021 to 22 August 2022. In an indicative ballot, UNISON members at the CQC voted 59% in favour of sustained industrial action to secure an improved pay offer.
– *The other unions involved in the CQC pay claim are Prospect, RCN, Unite and PCS.
-UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.