Staff at an Essex hospital that ditched the national NHS pay scheme in favour of local terms could go on strike after rejecting a 2% pay offer.
Foundation trusts are legally allowed flexibility to negotiate pay and conditions independently, and workers at Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust voted in June 2006 to abandon the Agenda for Change pay system and return to locally negotiated deals.
Now unions are using the sub-inflation pay offer as an opportunity to get staff back on to national scheme, claiming some workers are being paid less than they would be on national scales.
However, the trust’s HR director Sandra Le Blanc rejected this claim.
“As it stands, Agenda for Change would pay staff on local terms less than they currently receive, and the local staff representatives have not tabled this as a preferred option,” she told Personnel Today.
“The trust has a long history of having local terms and conditions – more than a decade – and we believe this has contributed to our success.”
Le Blanc said the trust anticipated paying out an extra £4.9m in salaries during 2008-09, but ruled out redundancies as a way of balancing its books.
“If additional funding is not available centrally, then we would seek to work in partnership with local trade unions on increasing productivity and reducing our operating expenses,” she said.
Le Blanc said she would now meet with union reps following the government’s three-year pay offer to NHS workers which proposed a 2.75% rise in the coming year.