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    A deserved boost in pay for NHS staff, who have battled through the pandemic, is ‘the elephant in the room’ in the latest plan for the health service in England, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Thursday 30 July).
    Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock today welcomed the launch of the NHS People Plan as a new bureaucracy busting drive, so staff can spend less time on paperwork and more time with their patients.
     
    Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said that the aims of this latest plan for the NHS would be hampered by the fragmentation caused by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act with its remit for increased competition for NHS services.
    Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “There have been a plethora of plans for the future of the NHS over the years and this latest manifestation neatly avoids ‘the elephant in the room’ – that of NHS pay.
    “NHS staff have worked ceaselessly throughout the pandemic at great risk to themselves and a generous pay rise would recognise that dedication as well as staunch the ‘recruitment and retention’ crisis that is currently afflicting the NHS – for example, there are about 40,000 nursing vacancies in England alone.
    “It is all very well for the plan to trumpet bureaucracy busting measures, but it was the flawed 2012 Act of the then health secretary Andrew Lansley that created the extra bureaucracy by fragmenting the NHS in the first place.
    “One of the key chapters of the People Plan is ‘belonging to the NHS’. This terms rings hollow to thousands of health visitors and school nurses cast outside the NHS; or the catering, cleaning, portering and maintenance staff that have been outsourced to private contractors or dispensed to wholly owned subsidiaries.
    “The English ideological obsession with marketisation and privatisation in the NHS must be terminated without delay and this report does nothing to address this.
    “We, of course, welcome such measures in the plan as boosting the mental health and cancer workforce; full risk assessments for vulnerable staff, including BAEM workers; and all jobs to be advertised with flexible working options from January.
    “But without addressing the issue of pay, highly skilled NHS staff will consider looking for more lucrative work elsewhere, possibly abroad.”
    Last week, chancellor Rishi Sunak awarded up to a 3.1 per cent pay rise for 900,000 public sector workers, including doctors, teachers and police officers. Unite accused the chancellor of having ‘a selective memory’ when it comes to public sector pay, rewarding some, but ignoring hundreds of thousands of others.

    Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble

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    • FBU members to be consulted on offer with union recommending money be paid immediately to staff
    • FBU to launch campaign for better pay with option of industrial action on table

    The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has condemned a 2% pay offer from employers labelling it ‘insulting’ to frontline firefighters and control staff.

    Employers have offered firefighters and control staff a 2% pay uplift, below teachers, doctors, dentists, police, and prison officers. The offer is on par with judges, senior civil servants, and the armed forces.

    The FBU has slammed fire service employers and chief fire officers for failing to value the work of their staff and criticised government ministers for failing to step in and ensure firefighters are properly rewarded in this year’s pay round – especially in light of the extra work taken on in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

    After a meeting of the FBU’s Executive Council today (Wednesday 29 July) it has been recommended that the money be immediately paid to staff as it “will be better in the pockets of firefighters and control staff than sitting in employer reserves”.

    The FBU’s pay offer will now go out to consultation for 28 days, during which firefighters and control staff will discuss the offer at union meetings in workplaces across the UK. The FBU will talk to members about their options to campaign for better pay over the next year, including industrial action.

    Firefighters have taken on an additional 14 areas of work to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

    An agreement reached on 26 March has allowed firefighters to drive ambulances, deliver vital supplies to the elderly and vulnerable, and move the bodies of the deceased.

    Since then, a number of further activities have been agreed, including assembling personal protective equipment (PPE) and training care home staff in infection, prevention and control.

    Despite this, fire service employers have offered the same pay settlement as last year, when pay rates for firefighters and control staff were increased by 2%.

    After a decade of pay restraint, firefighters are around £4,000 worse off than in 2010.

    Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:

    “Firefighters and control staff were due a pay offer on 1 July. Nearly a month past that deadline, fire service employers have made an offer – there is absolutely no excuse for making our members wait like this.

    “Sadly, the offer reflects the fact that employers simply do not value the vital and life-saving work our members undertake every day, nor the extraordinary lengths many have gone to in aiding the coronavirus response. Government ministers could have stepped in to ensure our members would be properly rewarded in this year’s pay round, but they chose to stand idly by.

    “The Chief Fire Officers who advise employers during pay negotiations must also bear some responsibility for the desperate situation facing our service and those who work in it. Throughout the past decade they have done absolutely nothing to challenge the brutal austerity policies of central government which have continued to rob our service of investment and resources.

    “This pay offer does not address the needs of FBU members whose wages have still not recovered from years of pay restraint, however firefighters and control staff desperately need an improvement in their living standards and this money will be better in their pockets than sitting in employer reserves.

    “We will now consult firefighters and control staff on the offer and discuss campaigning options around issues of pay and conditions over the coming year, including various forms of industrial action.”

    Joe Karp-Sawey, FBU communications officer

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    A confidential Treasury document leaked to The Telegraph revealed the government is considering a two-year public sector freeze to pay for the coronavirus response.

    The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has hit back at any attempt to make key workers pay for yet another crisis they did not cause and has vowed to fight any real-terms pay cut.

    Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:

    “Public sector workers were forced to pay for a financial crisis caused by the banks’ drive for endless profits and by a negligent government deregulation agenda. Now, once again, the Tories are preparing to make the same workers pay for another crisis they did not cause.

    “Firefighters have had a real-terms pay cut of around £4,000 over the last decade, much like workers across the public sector. Key workers and the public they serve will not accept another attempt to pass the buck from the rich to working people.  Far from discussing pay cuts, the government should instead be considering how best it can reward those who have got us through this pandemic.

    “The government is talking about dishing out medals to key workers in one breath, whilst planning pay cuts for them in another. We will fight any attempt to make those who see us through the coronavirus crisis pay for it with another real-terms pay cut.”

    Media contacts

    Joe Karp-Sawey, FBU communications officer
    FBU press office
    press@fbu.org,uk

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