Together we must keep shouting loud about pay

By Alice Sorby, Employment Relations Advisor on 09 March 2021 Pay Politics

NHS pay was thrust into the spotlight in the most unwelcome way late last week as the Government published its evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) - over six weeks late and several percentage points light. Any goodwill midwives and MSWs may still have been holding onto after months of warm words and claps must have faded away pretty quickly after hearing what the Government believes our NHS staff are worth. Hidden within the Government’s evidence was the sentence ‘in settling the DHSC and NHS budget, the Government assumed a headline pay award of 1% for NHS staff’.

Over the weekend, headlines were rightly dominated by NHS pay and a general sense of incredulity that this Government that has praised staff’s efforts over the past year could ever think that 1% was a just reward. But it’s not just about your incredible efforts of the past year, it’s about paying you what you’re worth. A pay rise is not about putting NHS staff on a pedestal: it is about paying hardworking, skilled staff fairly for the work that they do. It’s worth remembering that pay in the NHS has not yet recovered from the previous period of pay restraint, and, since 2010, the value of pay for a midwife at the top of band six has actually decreased by over £7,000 in real terms.

It was disappointing to see some of the narrative from 2010 repeated over the weekend, pitting the public sector against the private sector, those with jobs against those without even though we now have the evidence that austerity stalled economic growth and recovery. A pay rise for the NHS reaches every corner of the UK, meaning that NHS staff have money to spend in local businesses helping the economy to recover. The Government in their evidence have got it wrong for the NHS, its workforce and the wider economy.

The RCM’s Deliver a Decent Deal pay campaign has not changed because of this announcement. If anything, it’s become more important than ever. Together we have to keep up the pressure on politicians, to make our voices heard. There are many ways to do this, to influence the public debate and make the Government rethink its position. Display a campaign poster on your Branch noticeboard. Contact your local MP. Put pay on the agenda at your next RCM branch meeting. Join in Thursday’s slow hand clap and post on social media using the hashtag #DeliverADecentDeal.

We will continue to do all we can from the centre too. On 23 March the RCM, including two of our Board members and RCM Workplace Representatives, will meet with the NHS PRB to tell them exactly why midwives and MSWs deserve a significant pay rise. The PRB will take some time to consider its recommendation to the Government, with the final decision expected in the summer.

That’s why it’s never been more crucial that we keep the pressure on. If you want to be part of the campaign, but you aren’t sure how please speak to your local RCM Workplace Representative or contact the RCM direct – together we are stronger and we can make a difference!