Executive come under fire for Agenda for Change
The big issue of the day was Defending Agenda for Change. There was a number of branches that had criticized the Health Service Group Executive for accepting this years offer on Agenda for Change cuts.
George Baron moved motion 11 on behalf of the Executive. He said Agenda for Change offers our members the best access to decent working conditions, equal pay and preserving an effective UK-wide bargaining strategy.
Agenda for Change is under attack as a result NHS cost pressures and the lack of political support from the Tory-led Coalition government.
George explained the employers had come with a shopping list of terms and conditions they wanted to take from members and an attitude of “to hell with agenda for change”.
George defended ‘survey monkey’ the on-line survey that had been used by the Service group to find out members views. He said the Service Group had consulted members widely and all the regions had supported the changes to AfC.
Assistant Branch Secretary of Manchester Community Health Branch moving amendment 11.1 said accepting cuts was not acceptable and agenda for change was not only the responsibility of branches but also the responsibility of the Service Group Executive.
He blamed the Executive for accepting cuts in agenda for change and wanted delegates to support him in censuring them for accepting these cuts on our behalf.
He said his members back in Manchester were livid over these cuts and was not acceptable. The consultation was flawed, a done deal, and scare tactics got the the deal through.
Pauline Stanley opposed and said it was idiotic to censure the Executive for listening to members.
Sean Sawyer supported the censure and spoke about the cut in sick pay for people working unsocial hours and asked delegates to realize the losses to those people who work permanent nights.
Mick McEwan from Liverpool asked do you really think the Service Group Executive acted in bad faith.
Conrad Lawrence from London Health said we should respect their decision, or are we saying we do not respect members views.
Delegates voted against the censure.
Amendment 11.2 was moved by Adrian O’Malley from Mid Yorkshire Health branch (formally Pinderfield and Pontefract Trust). Conference heard from Medical Secretaries that had been threatened with down banding and took strike action received rapturous applause.
Strikers at Mid Yorkshire Health spoke of there experiences on strike and encouraged branches to dispute local attacks and wanted training how to instigate lawful industrial action.
Amendment 11.3 from Bucks health called on the union to prepare for a lawful ballot for national industrial action in defense of Agenda for Change should employers come back with more proposals to alter it, or if local employers opt-out.
Jenny Forbes was in opposition saying our union is member led and it is up to members to decide if to take industrial action.
James Morgan supported and spoke about members who face £400 a month pay cut.
Jenny Harvey from the Executive said we should vote on the motions content, not what the branch mean. She said this would shackle negotiators in talks with employers. But also said, UNISON is prepared to call for strike action if needed.
Helena from South London said pay was under attack and we should do something about these attacks while Dino Williams asked how do we do this?
In his right of reply George Baron said it was time to draw a line in the sand. He asked delegates not to support amendments 11.1 & 11.3 but support motions 11 and 11.2 which the majority did.
To Strike or not to strike, that is the question?
Motions 6 and 7 had been merged together and called composite B which was named NHS Pay Freeze. The motions spoke of the severe drop in living standards due to soaring increases in the cost of living, inflation, changes to the welfare system and tax credits.
An amendment from Bucks Health, James Anthony again called on the union to prepare for a ballot for lawful industrial action.
Sai a new delegate from West London spoke of what members are prepared to do and not to do. Members are not willing to strike.
Sai said he told his members I have good news for you. You have a 1% pay rise. Some people are not getting anything.
He said he was not willing to strike if people are not willing to do it. No one comes to meetings. We can’t get a quorate. There is no mood to strike. Live with 1% if we can.
Roger Davey from Wiltshire branch said every year we come to conference to defend members pay. This unprecedented onslaught is part of the system. And if not now, when do we ballot for industrial action.
Roger said, we are raising our membership. Get out there and encourage members to take action. Be a fighting campaigning union.
First time speaker and a nervous Sam Jefferys from South East Wales branch said he would vote against preparing for a ballot for lawful industrial action.
Members are willing to put up with anything to save their jobs. How can we ask them to strike. He added our branch does not support a blanket approach to industrial action.
Helen Redebt would support strike action. The Government said they do not believe pay increases are necessary or affordable. Yet they have money for Trident and money for the banks.
We’re suffering pay and pension attacks. Employers keep coming back for more and more pay, terms and conditions. Prepare for a ballot for lawful industrial action.
Sarah Lewis, Great Ormond Street Hospital would vote against strike action. She said it would take more than one day of action.
The public support the NHS and Tories want to sell off the NHS bit by bit. And everyone in this room is proud to be working in the NHS.
Dino Wiliams urged members to talk to members, ask them. He said its pointless ordering them. It will be bands 1 and 2 not band 8 who take strike action. He urged delegates to support the motion but not a ballot for strike action.
Other speakers spoke of patient care and no appetite to take industrial action. There was no evidence members would strike and don’t run before we can walk.
In his right of reply James Anthony said the Executive do not support a 1% pay increase. The only way to oppose it is to fight it. He urged delegates to talk to members what they want.
Delegates voted to reject preparing for a ballot for strike action.
Round up of todays decisions
Motion 10 asking members to vote on the pay award 2013/14.
Motions 8 and 9 Pay campaigning, and the drop in living standards.
Motions 42 and 43 Influencing the new NHS England, about blocking privatisation and restricting encroachment of markets.
Motion 16 and 17 Pay Cartels, stopping NHS Trusts coming out of agenda for change and setting up worse terms and conditions
Motions 14 and 15 Defense of National Pay and Conditions and calling on censuring the Health service Group Executive was rejected by the majority of delegates.