NHS staff union leaders have rejected a proposed pay freeze for two years - offered in return for no compulsory redundancies.
Unison leaders said there was no guarantees that bosses would abide by the deal, and that it was not legally binding.
The union's Mike Jackson said: "The Service Group Executive said today that they could not support a further pay freeze for nurses, paramedics and other low-paid, mainly women workers. The funding gap in the NHS is so great that members were sceptical that trusts would abide by a no compulsory redundancy agreement for two years.
"Additionally, they felt that the offer was divisive because it excluded high level clinicians, such as matrons, senior occupational therapists and midwife supervisors."
A spokesman for NHS Employers, which represents health trusts in England on workforce issues, said: "We are extremely disappointed that Unison has decided to reject this proposal at this stage. We believe the deal represents the best chance of protecting jobs for staff and providing continuity of care for patients."
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Chief Executive Dr Peter Carter said: "Our members have been telling us loud and clear that they are angry about the proposal, that it won't work and that it is divisive. I have said clearly that the proposal as it stands is ill thought-out and enough is enough."
Copyright © Press Association 2011
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"I agree with B Wood, fight for what we have and for what we should have. Bankers' bonuses paid by the public. Police, their overtime is way over the top and has been for years.. yet the people like nurses and biomedical scientists ... nothing. It's about time our unions did something to protect our jobs" - R Langley, North Wales
"I think it absurd that we are expected to do the same job as colleagues who may be on as much as £5k because they are at the top of their band. Complete inequality. What is the point of furthering your career, undertaking a degree when you are not going to be rewarded financially? We already work numerous constant additional hours without pay! It is notable that only the lower band are to be affected, this is completely unfair.
This will only lead to greater inequality, resentment and a 2 tier system. If this is accepted you can bet it will never be reinstated. I urge all to use their voice and vote against. No other professional service is being treated in this manner. And no other service accepts such low pay!" - C Ferdinandez, Bedford
"I totally agree with the comments so far - I am not a nurse but a band 3 support worker, I travel a round trip of 80 miles a day and at times do community work through the mid, west and south of wales. How am I supposed to live on a low wage and still maintain travel to work at a time where petrol costs spiral? The cost of living is rising dramatically but our wages seem to get lower!! I also study part time so somehow have to
incorporate this into working full time and still try to have a work life balance?!" - K Hughes, South Wales
"I agree. Having come from a trust merger where nurses were 're-deployed' into other jobs, rather than offered a redundancy payment (which I would have preferred), hospitals would just make nurses' lives so depressingly unbearable that they would resign for posts elsewhere - as I did. The trusts are in a win/win - no pay rise and no redundancy payment, just move staff into jobs they don't want. Why should we surrender our increments as well as a pay rise for no guaranteed benefit!" - D Draycott, Derbyshire
"I am a practice nurse and this is my third year without any pay rise - also I have one week less annual leave than hospital nurses - Agenda for Change was totally ignored. Things are getting worse for nurses and yet we are expected to maintain a high level of education and therefore a high level of patient care (which I am very proud of) and somehow manage to get blamed when the doctors do not reach their targets - why are we not, at least, on the level of teachers, police and firemen?" - Theresa, Essex
"I am in agreement with all the above statement. The more we work the less we are appreciated for all our hard work" - R Reynolds, Newport
"I totally agree with the rejection, why should highly qualified, skilled and committed public sector employees be blackmailed into accepting a pay freeze in return for no compulsory redundancies when currently many staff have already been served with redundancy notice?" - Felicia Salmon, NHS Ealing
"I agree with all the comments so far. Many of us have expanded our roles, whilst on top of working, have used our own time to meet ongoing academic study recommendations. This has had a huge positive impact for patients and many comment on how they prefer to see us to their doctor. Many of us have specialized and are able to prescribe for this. The salary in no way reflects the responsibility, contribution to patient care planning and ongoing study the profession now requires. The government and those removed from the reality of frontline care delivery have absolutely no idea of how insulting this financial 'reward' is" - W McMahon, London
"Things are even worse for practice nurses. I recently had a 0.5% pay rise after a pay freeze of 3 years" - Jane Howe, Howe
"With the current annual pay award freeze and the proposed changes to mileage allowances, many nurses are already worse off, this is before VAT rises, tax credit cuts and general price increases such as fuel and utilities are taken into account. To then also freeze increments would make life even more difficult for staff at a time when we are being expected to do more and more during our working week to plug the gap in
service provision" - Janey, Hull
"I am disgusted that we (mainly women) NHS workers have to always bend backwards to help with all shortfalls that are caused by the banks and government ... enough is enough!!" - Hana Mandi, Bradford
"Nurses are the lowest paid professionals in this country, morale is already low, why does the government want to punish us even more? We will not be excluded from the increased VAT on purchases, we have to pay more for petrol, electricity, gas and water. Our children are faced with increased university fees yet our wages will be frozen for 2 years. I want someone to explain to me how can we survive economically in this climate. The government expects increased productivity from nurses yet they are strangling us with the prospect of increased debts and a poor standard of living. No one ever cares for nurses in this caring environment that we work in. It's time that we unite together and let them know we will not take this lying down. The blackmail of job losses will not work, nurses, stand up and fight for your wages" - B Wood, West Midlands
"How can the government propose this when the bankers have received absurd bonuses. Keep the low paid poor and keep the rich rich. New government same broken promises" - Tracy Beckham, Berkshire
"I totally agree nurses of all public sector employees are already very poorly paid compared to the police and fire service. Neither police or fire fighters require a degree to join their respective services yet they are paid higher salaries than nurses and this is something that needs to be addressed and certainly won't help by not only freezing the third part of our pay deal that was negotiated previously but also freezing the
increments of those who are not at the top of their pay scale under agenda for change" - H Evans, South Wales
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