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Health unions give dire prognosis for regional pay

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: September 28, 2012

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Unions are turning up the heat on health organisations throughout the South West in a bid to force them to abandon a pay cartel it is feared will drive down wages and conditions.

The 20 boards of the South West Pay Consortium (SWC), which includes hospitals in Taunton, Bristol and Swindon, are to be individually lobbied by Unison members.

The SWC, which each trust paid £10,000 to join, was set up to explore ways of meeting unprecedented financial challenges.

However, unions representing every tier of health workers, from doctors to porters, have condemned it as a way of driving down pay and imposing restrictive employment conditions.

There was a protest in Truro, Cornwall, yesterday and Joanne Kaye, Unison South West regional secretary, said other trusts could expect a taste of the same.

Recently released discussion documents from the SWC emphasise that “absolutely no proposals” have as of yet been put forward. However, the papers do detail a number of “staff cost reduction potential opportunities.”

Last week, all members of the SWC staged what they hailed as a “positive and constructive” meeting surrounding the discussion papers.

Chris Bown, consortium steering group chairman, said they were determined to be open about their action. “Trusts continue to seek to engage with staff representatives, including unions, on issues arising from the work of the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium,” he said.

Mr Bown continued: “It is vital that staff have the opportunity for their views to be heard, and for employers in turn to listen and to provide information that promotes understanding of why the area of pay, terms and conditions is being looked at as a way of supporting trusts in securing stability in employment, services and finances.”

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