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Nurses’ anger growing over pay offer

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ANGER is growing among Jersey’s nurses as the pay equality they were promised several years ago has been ‘kicked down the road again’, which could lead to resignations, a nursing union leader has said.

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On Monday, States chief executive Charlie Parker held a meeting with nursing and midwifery staff to address concerns about their pay deal for 2018 and 2019, in which they were offered average salary rises of 4.5% and 2.1% respectively.

The meeting, which was held at 1 pm at the Jersey Opera House, came shortly after Mr Parker sent an email to all nursing staff advising them there was ‘no money’ available for better pay rises.

Speaking after the meeting, Kenny McNeil, convenor of the Royal College of Nursing, said that ‘anger has never been higher’ among nurses and accused the government of failing to live up to promises made to staff several years ago.

‘We had the 2012,13,14 agreement where we told that nurses would achieve pay equality,’ he said.

‘In nursing, you have to achieve much harder qualifications to progress through the pay scale then elsewhere.

‘But it seems that the 2012,13,14 agreement has just been allowed to slide away and pay equality is being kicked down the road again.’

He added that plans to provide better pay rises for lower-level employees could cause resentment among experienced and senior staff.

‘It is the more experienced staff who are paying for this. The pay award for ward managers [for 2018] was 1.7% not 4.5 per cent,’ he said.

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‘At a time when ward managers are getting more and more responsibility, they are getting a pay rise well below the average.

‘If staff are being asked to do more and more and getting less pay, then something is going to give at some stage. What you could see is people walking.’

Mr McNeil said that about 120 staff turned out for the meeting, despite it being at an inconvenient time.

‘There was a good turnout even though it was arranged on Monday during the lunch hour, which was going to be a very difficult time for most staff to attend,’ he said.

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‘A lot of people have emailed Mr Parker as well to say they could not attend, and I think that was partly in protest at the time the meeting was held.’

He added: ‘We have written back to Mr Parker outlining the options we would prefer to happen and we are waiting for a response.

‘We are working very closely with the other nursing unions. At this stage nothing is off the table in terms of next steps.’

A member of Jersey’s nursing staff, who wishes to remain anonymous, said nurses feel the States are trying to ‘dupe’ them into accepting the deal.

‘Staff are pretty annoyed that they have been trying to dupe us into believing it is a better pay deal than it actually is,’ the nurse said.

‘They are planning to bring up the wages of lower-paid staff, but that is a cause of grievance for people who may have been in the job for 20 years.

‘They are trying to attract newer staff but to be sustainable they need to retain old staff as well.’

The nurse added that staff felt adequate pay awards should be part of the well-funded Future Hospital project.

‘We were quite bamboozled by Mr Parker’s email saying that there is no money available for pay rises.

‘We are always hearing about all the money that is going to be spent on the new hospital but why aren’t they setting any of that aside for the existing staff?

‘It will be fine having a shiny new hospital but what’s the point if they don’t have any staff in it?’

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
author

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