AMICUS-MSF health workers in London voted overwhelmingly last week to oppose the government's new pay package, Agenda for Change. The meeting of the Health Service Advisory Committee (the body representing health workers in London) was the largest and angriest for years.
Members spoke about pay cuts, a reduction in on-call allowances, longer working hours, and London weighting that is a percentage of pay (if you're on a low wage, you get less London weighting). Many workers will face pay cuts from the new job evaluation scheme.
And the Agenda for Change proposals will also increase working hours for 60 percent of our members, and introduce several different forms of performance-related pay.
Employers will have the freedom to freeze the pay of any health worker at any time if they think the person is showing 'significant weaknesses'. All health workers will effectively have to repeat a probationary year each time they change jobs in the NHS-again, employers will be given the right to withhold pay increases.
Agenda for Change is seriously underfunded. The proposed agreement demands that unions, in the spirit of partnership, work with employers to implement Agenda for Change 'within financial constraints'.
If union leaders sign up for this they are agreeing in advance to the continuation of low pay and inadequate funding in the NHS. The views of London members reflect a growing unease around Britain. In the most Blairite of unions, the tide is beginning to turn against Agenda for Change.