Members in Health, please see below correspondence to Mr. Kevin McAdam, the NI Rep to the Staff Council, forwarded in relation to the collective submission to the Pay Review Body.
It is NIPSA’s position that a pay deal must address poverty pay. Some of our members rely on Tax Credits and work 2 jobs, just to meet their daily living expenses, all while being recognized as Key Workers in the Covid Pandemic. We view this as disgraceful and holds the HSC up as being seen as an employer that does not adequately remunerate its workers. This is an issue that has played out negatively as staff leave the service to take up work that is better paid and carries less responsibility. To be frank, the HSC is no longer an employer of choice and the historical staffing crisis and the thousands of vacancies that exist right across the service must be understood to be in large part pay related. Recruitment and retention issues are real and if not urgently addressed the HSC will continue to hemorrhage staff that will result in an even more exhausted and a work force that feels undervalued and exploited.
The potential for some form of pay freeze is unacceptable and will be resisted by us and our members who will feel further betrayed. We could not fathom that given the past year, the period that we are now in and will be in for some time and the overwhelming public support that has been shown for our members and wider HSC staff, that a pay freeze could even be contemplated.
Health Workers have public support and Government must give financial recognition to remove the detriment that has taken place over years that have seen workers lose pay as the rate of inflation soared above their rate of pay. This played out last year when more than 50% of NIPSA members at the top of their scale received a below inflation pay increase of 1.67%. Pay Restoration remains an objective of NIPSA and the detail is compelling, as TUC data shows that public sector workers have lost between £4000 and £6000 in the 10 years 2008-2018.
We do not accept the chancellor’s interpretation of the Public/Private sector pay gap and there are factors omitted from that interpretation that skew the information. The Trade Union movement have conducted recent work that dispels the myths on this matter.
It is the NIPSA position that a significant claim is necessary and our claim is for 15% or £3,000 whichever is higher; we believe this is reasonable and what our members deserve and will help to address costly recruitment and retention issues.
In conclusion, the issues that we have highlighted reinforce the point that for many years the underfunding and neglect of the NHS has had consequences for the workers. Lack of workforce planning resulting in thousands of vacancies, recruitment and retention issues, pay cuts and pressures have not made life easy for our members and the Covid pandemic has shone a light on all of these issues. Investment in Safe Staffing and Pay justice are key to fixing some of these issues and we take this opportunity to thank all health workers for stepping up for us all. What we ask for in return for them is recognition and a decent pay rise.
We are happy to supplement these points in oral evidence.