Want to make a difference when it comes to pay?

By Alice Sorby, Director Employment Relations on 26 July 2022 NHS MSWs - Maternity Support Workers NHS Unions Trade Unions Covid-19

Trade unions are rarely out of the news at the moment. Across the public and private sector union members are saying they have had enough. Had enough of being worse off, working harder and longer and paying for a cost of living crisis that they did not cause. And let’s be clear - working people did not cause this crisis, prices are rising because of the impact of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. At the same time big company profits are up - 34% for the biggest non financial firms according to IPPR and in March 2022 city bonuses were at their highest cash level on record.

This was the backdrop of the Westminster Government’s announcement of pay awards across the public sector. In the NHS this pay rise is not a rise at all. The award is a £1400 consolidated increase, although if you are at the top of band 6 or at any point in band 7 the amount is adjusted to equate to 4%. Though flat rate pay rises mean different percentage increases depending on where you sit on the pay scale whichever way you look at it this is a real terms pay cut for all. The RCM wants to see a decent pay rise for everyone in the NHS because let’s face it, maternity services have been running on good will for far too long.

Lots of you have already been in touch to say how angry you feel about this announcement, now is the time for you to have your say on our next steps. We will be consulting members from 1 August to 5 September 2022 and want to know how you feel about the pay award and what action you are willing to take. Crucially we need to hear from lots of you. Restrictive trade union legislation means that a 50% response rate is required in any statutory industrial action ballot.

The RCM Board will use this initial consultation to inform its decision on whether to move to an industrial action ballot in accordance with the Trade Union Act 2016. A formal ballot requires a postal vote so would look very different to the survey you are about to receive.

Of course we will be including details of the consultation in RCM emails, newsletters, social media, the pay hub on the website and RCM staff will be popping up in member meetings all over but our strength as a trade union actually comes from you our members. It comes from those individual conversations you have with each other, about the campaign, about how you feel and about how important it is for everyone to have their say.

That’s why we are looking for RCM members to become pay activists, you might already be a workplace representative or a branch officer or you might never have held a role within the RCM before but you feel really strongly about pay. It doesn’t matter what your starting point is. We are setting up WhatsApp groups for each region in England where members that want to get active on pay can come together.

We’re also planning a series of workshops to give you the tools you need to go back into the workplace and galvanise members to respond. The first thing you will see are posters with a QR code to join a WhatsApp group, the link will also be on the RCM website or one of your local workplace representatives will be able to share it with you.

It seems a big ask. Midwives and MSWs are tired and many are voting with their feet and leaving the NHS but fair pay is critical to recruitment and retention - we have to stop this vicious cycle. So get involved and send a strong message to the Government that RCM members and all NHS staff deserve a decent deal.