RCN counters public sector pay myth
Published: 07 July 2009
The Royal College of Nursing says it will take every opportunity to ensure that myths surrounding public sector pay and pensions are countered with fact. The RCN says it is not fair to say that public sector pay must be frozen just because this is what is happening in the private sector. In addition, just as the references to 'gold plated' public sector pensions are not correct, this statement about the private sector is not true either.
The comments follow the publication of an Observer article by Steve Bundred, Chief Executive of the Audit Commission, who advocated a public sector pay freeze as a "pain free way of cutting public expenditure".
The RCN says the nursing workforce is close to shortage and the existing three year pay deal must honoured. RCN lead negotiator and Head of Employment Relations, Josie Irwin says:
"Alan Johnson has repeatedly pledged the Government to honouring the three year deal. To renege on this would risk reducing morale and generating industrial unrest. Freezing or cutting nurses' pay would put recruitment and retention at risk.
Nurses continue to deliver value for money. The Government is delivering its health targets, on cancer, cleanliness and waiting times, for example, because nurses are working harder than ever. The RCN's latest Employment Survey shows nurses continue to work an extra 6.5 hours a week on average and often unpaid. Economic pressures have undoubtedly generated extra demands from health services. Nurses deserve the increase they are due from the three year deal".
The Chancellor, Alistair Darling has neither confirmed nor denied the rumours.
Pay in the private sector, according to the respected Incomes Data Services, is currently on a spectrum of pay freezes at 1% at one end but 4% increases at the other. Most freezes are in manufacturing. Earnings growth in April 2009 (the most recent figures) was 2.5% in the private sector compared with 3.3% in the public sector.
Nursing shortages may result from reduced commissions for pre-registration training places, the retirement of up to 200,000 nurses in the decade, increased migration of nurses to overseas jobs, reduced inward migration because of changes in immigration rules and increasing demand because of societal pressures all come to a head.
The median salary for nurses' is £23,345 and nurses still earn less on average over their careers than other professionals.