Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/365/5992
Reject Agenda For Change!
LOW PAY in the NHS is widespread - many ancillary workers get around £4.85 an hour, little more than the minimum wage. Thousands have to rely on extra payments for working unsocial hours just to scrape together a living.
Adrian O'Malley, UNISON Wakefield & Pontefract Hospitals branch, personal capacity
The new Agenda for Change package (AfC) which all UNISON members will be voting on this month, supposedly tackles the issues of low pay and others like job progression. Our union leaders have called the deal "a great step forward" and "historic".
But Socialist Party members in the NHS disagree. The lowest paid will still be on only £5.69 an hour - far less than our own union calls for as the national minimum wage.
There will also be around 80,000 'losers' from the outset. Their pay will be 'protected' says the union but this just means members won't get a pay rise for years. This is a pay cut - the cost of living won't be pegged by the government!
The government were going to replace the unsocial hours payments with a new system right up until a month ago - until they realised that 40% of workers would be worse off!
Faced with UNISON members rejecting the scheme, the government offered a climbdown and withdrew temporarily their draconian plans. The current system will stay until a separate review next year. Our executive now calls this a 'win:win situation'.
But we believe members are being conned - if the government wanted drastic cuts now, they are going to want big cuts in a year's time. By this time, they expect the general election to have been won. And with AfC already in, this vulnerable group of members - the lowest paid - will be left to fight the attacks on their own.
Our union leadership are desperate not to upset the Labour government in the run-up to the general election. Because of the link with the Labour Party, everything our union does takes into account the government's policy - often before our own.
Members should reject Agenda for Change and become active in their union to fight for a 35-hour week, an £8 an hour minimum wage and to break with the Labour Party and campaign for a new workers' party.
In The Socialist 9 October 2004:
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis