Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/367/6020
NHS pay and conditions
Vote 'No' To Agenda For Change
"WE WILL be taking a wage cut of £1,350 per year if the Agenda for Change (AfC) goes through" said Lynne Saker, a medical secretary in Guys hospital in London.
"The union people have told us that we can do nothing about it unless we join the union but the same person said that we have been paid too much for years anyway".
Lynne rang up the socialist and told us that she and many other secretaries in Guys were outraged that this was happening. She called a meeting and expected maybe a dozen or so people to come. Instead 150 turned up and demanded that "something should be done".
"I didn't know where to look so I looked on the internet and saw your paper" she said. "The union people didn't seem interested in us. They said that there was nothing that could be done. If we didn't like it we should join the union and vote in the ballot on AfC. But why should we join when the union thinks AfC is okay?"
Lynne was delighted to hear that there was growing opposition in the union to the deal and would think about joining it again. "We need a union that will fight for us" said Lynne.
Lynne took Socialist Party leaflets back into the hospital with back copies of the socialist where articles explain why AfC should be rejected.
- Reject Agenda for Change.
- Fight for a 35-hour week and an £8 an hour minimum wage.
- Break with the Labour party and campaign for a new, mass workers' party.
Robbing Peter To Pay Paul
I HAD a good opportunity to compare the attitude of UNISON officials to that of Socialist Party health service workers recently. A UNISON official came to a TUC union reps course I was on, to talk about AfC.
Rob Rooney, Hull Socialist Party
He made much of the fact that the whole thing has been worked up "in partnership" - nothing has been implemented without union agreement. But, as with the local government Single Status deal, UNISON appears to have fallen into the trap of allowing some members to pay for others' pay rises and increases in annual leave.
8% of workers will lose pay, about 100,000, but the official was at pains to point out that nobody's pay is being cut. He described the deal, now management's proposals on call-outs and unsocial hours have been temporarily shelved, as a good one.
The voting is about to start but two utterly unresolved questions threaten to unravel the hopeful talk of unity and "partnership" - how the massive leap in the pay bill for a "24/7" health service will be funded and how foundation hospitals fit into it all.
SOCIALIST PARTY member Roger Bannister is standing in the forthcoming election for UNISON general secretary. His programme includes opposition to Agenda for Change.
In The Socialist 23 October 2004:
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party features
International socialist news and analysis