The politician leading pay negotiations with Guernsey's nursing union has asked questions about the ballot which led to the latest offer being rejected - saying there are "significant concerns" about "how it was carried out and the integrity of the result".
Deputy David Mahoney represents the Policy and Resources Committee in all pay negotiations and he inherited the long standing issue of 'disparity' between some nurses pay and equivalent roles elsewhere in the public service sector, when he was elected in October 2020.
The pay negotiations pre-date the Covid pandemic, with a protest march in 2019 describing nurses wages as "potato peel pay".
Pictured: Last week the RCN announced the members who had been balloted had voted by majority to reject the latest pay offer.
Now, the Royal College of Nursing has rejected the most recent pay offer, which was a three year deal including an uplift of 5% plus £500 for this year, an uplift of RPIX next year and RPIX minus 1% the year after.
There were conditions attached to the first and third year offers as follows:
This offer was put to ballot by Royal College of Nursing members in Guernsey, with the majority of the 65.2% of members who voted, saying to reject the offer.
A second question had asked those balloted if they would "be prepared to undertake industrial action and/or action short of strike". A majority of the balloted members voted to say yes, they would.
In response to the RCN, Deputy Mahoney has said asked a number of questions so he can be clearer on some of the points they have raised.
He said: ‘We are of course disappointed in the result of the ballot. We do have some significant concerns about the ballot, how it was carried out and the integrity of the result, and we are in the process of writing to the RCN to ask for clarity on a number of points."
Pictured: Deputy Al Brouard (l) is the President of HSC, but all pay negotiations for nurses and other healthcare workers, are managed by Policy and Resources, with Deputy David Mahoney (r) leading.
Deputy Mahoney said the ongoing issue of "pay parity" is misleading because that has been addressed through interim measures.
"We believe the pay offer is very reasonable and follows several years of above inflation pay increases for nursing staff. This group has seen an uplift totalling approximately 20% since 2018, compared with 6.4% for Established Staff. These increases have been agreed in recognition of the incredibly valuable work these staff do, their skills and qualifications, and to bring them more in line with colleagues in other areas. But it needs to also be remembered that other colleagues have seen far smaller increases or pay freezes over the same period.
"The union continues to call for pay parity disregarding these increases and failing to recognise that it is not as straightforward as simply paying one group of employees above inflation increases year after year, above those of other staff. It must take into account a wide range of factors, including the overall remuneration package, shift patterns, overtime, holidays and more. Comparing the skills of various workers, and the ability to recruit and retain in different areas is also not a simple like-for-like. We are happy to discuss these issues constructively with the union, and we believe the pay awards made in the past few years demonstrates the States willingness to recognise its employees and find solutions. However, the union has made little effort to work collegiately with the employer and instead has taken a confrontational approach, has sought to misinform its members and misrepresent the significant increases awarded in recent years. We know there are nurses who share our view, as they have contacted us directly to let us know, and we’re grateful to them for that.’
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