Step in the right direction, says RCN

A STEP towards pay parity is how the Royal College of Nursing has described the latest 5% pay increase from the States.

RCN convenor Kenny Lloyd and regional director Patricia Marquis. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29068009)
RCN convenor Kenny Lloyd and regional director Patricia Marquis. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29068009)

Nurses, midwives and low income manual workers are the only groups to be awarded pay rises next year.

Everyone else in the public sector will see their wages frozen, as the States grapples with the cost of the pandemic.

Healthcare staff on Agenda for Change conditions received a 5% pay increase in 2019, another 5% in 2020, and are now in line for a further 5% next year.

RCN convenor Kenny Lloyd said they broadly welcomed the offer.

‘Clearly we’re a membership organisation so we need to speak to our members and get their feedback on it, and I’m actually hopeful that this does demonstrate intent from the new Policy & Resources Committee to finally do something about nurses’ pay and address the inequality that has existed.

‘Of course, we’re cognisant of the many staff within the States of Guernsey that have been informed that they won’t be getting a rise next year, and many of them have been doing hard work behind the scenes supporting the frontline workers during the pandemic, so our thoughts are with them.’

Equal pay for work of equal value remains the goal of the RCN, to acknowledge that their graduate profession is highly technical, physically exhausting, emotionally demanding, and stressful.

Despite the pandemic, Mr Lloyd sounded optimistic yesterday it would eventually be achieved.

‘The gap was so huge that it’s going to take a number of years to address it, so yes we welcome the latest news and it seems disingenuous to say that we don’t think this is enough, but the reality is that it probably isn’t because the gap is that large.

‘Our case has never been about an annual rise, it’s about closing that huge gap between us and other public sector workers, primarily civil servants.’

The news of the 2021 offer came as a surprise to the RCN because it had understood that the talks were ongoing.

Patricia Marquis, its south-east director, said it came out of the blue.

‘It’s disappointing to see this announcement made at the end of the year without due consideration to talking to us or the other pay groups it affects.

‘This announcement does not appear to have been made in the spirit of the open and transparent negotiations we thought we were part of.’

Communication breakdowns aside, the 5% offer is being viewed pragmatically, especially within the context that other frontline staff are getting no rise in 2021.

The two-year pay rise covers about 1,000 nurses and midwives.

The group called public sector employees, which includes sewage cart drivers, crane operators, caretakers and ground staff, and is around 700 full-time posts, has been awarded a 2.4% pay rise for next year.

Civil servants, teachers, firefighters, police officers, Jescc staff, prison officers, medical consultants and specialists will all see their wages standstill.

Policy & Resources, the States committee with responsibility for public sector pay, decided to freeze these wages because of the fiscal toll from the pandemic.

This year there is an overall budget gap of £59m. and next year it is estimated to be £23m.

On top of that it was noted that most private sector workers are not getting pay rises.

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