States’ modernisation will not attract health workers

CHANGES to the contracts and pay structure of public sector employees will fail to entice health workers to Jersey or retain existing staff, a leader of the Jersey Nursing Association has said.

The nursing unions’ ballot is due to end on Monday 5 February
The nursing unions’ ballot is due to end on Monday 5 February

States employees are currently being balloted over whether to accept a £47 million overhaul of the public sector that would mean all workers would be subject to one set of terms and conditions and a standardised pay scheme. Entitlement to maternity leave, holidays and overtime will be the same throughout the workforce.

Terry Hanby, convener of the Jersey Nursing Association, said that his organisation did not support the offer and was urging members to reject it.

In order to achieve a standardised pay structure, 35 ambulance service staff will receive a 21.4 per cent increase and residential child care officers a 22 per cent rise in pensionable pay by 2020. Other sectors will see rises between 2.5 and 19.1 per cent.

However, the unions say that thousands will be left out of pocket by the changes, with the 3,229 civil servants working in the public sector set to receive an average rise of 3.3 per cent by 2020 – below the expected cost-of-living rises.

Mr Hanby said: ‘This is an offer and as such it is an offer we can reject as unsuitable and requiring further negotiation to address collective concerns. We as employees have to think of ourselves, our community and the type of services we want to be a part of.

‘To that end we also have the power to ensure the employer not only listens but acts upon our concerns. Without the collective goodwill of nursing staff, the hospital will not function. Nursing staff have the collective strength to ensure the current offer changes to one that all unions can recommend.’

The other nursing union that is active in the Island – the Royal College of Nursing – had previously said that it was up to each individual employee to decide whether to accept the new terms.

Mr Hanby said that the current offer would reduce nursing pay rates for night and weekend duty and would amount to four years of below inflation pay awards. He added: ‘Under business as usual, some groups – not nurses – were evaluated and received substantial pay increases, which then translated into higher pay within workforce modernisation.

‘With full respect to colleagues, the hospital and community services could not function without nurses.

‘Remember, it is people that will make the new hospital achieve success and not the amount spent consulting and building it. We need a pay structure that recruits and retains high-quality staff, workforce modernisation as it currently stands does not achieve that goal.’

The unions’ ballot is due to end on Monday 5 February, with the results due to be announced a week later.

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