Unison, the union representing workers in the public sector is to put its acceptance of new NHS proposals to ballot; its 450,000 health members will vote on the far-reaching recommendations which if elected will result in the biggest shake up of pay and conditions since the NHS was created.
The Agenda for Change had cast fears among Unison officials that it would make the poorest worse off but the proposed new minimum wage for the NHS set at £5.69 an hour is more generous then the government’s National Minimum Wage adult rate of £4.85 per hour.
Ballot papers will be sent to NHS members on 13-14 October, with the ballot closing on 5 November and results announced on 8 November.
Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary said: “Quite rightly Agenda for Change has been the subject of long and intense negotiations. At the heart of this package will be a new minimum wage in the NHS of £11,135. That is a great breakthrough for our lowest paid members, many of whom are women.”
If the recommendations are voted in the new minimum wage will be backdated as of 1 October with changes being implemented as of December. The new wage will mean an increase of 93p an hour or £35 a week for about 22,000 health workers. A collection of early implementer site trusts have already been operating under the scheme.
A maximum salary of £83,546 will also be set for those in the top bands. This, however, excludes chief executives and directors, some of whom already earn more then this.
Karen Jennings, national secretary for health at the union group commented: “Agenda for Change is crucial to the modernisation of the NHS. It’s an equal pay system that’s designed to cut out the inequalities and demarcations that are rife in the current antiquated pay system. It is simply not an option to carry on with a system that is failing to recognise or properly reward staff for the work they do.”