Unions lose pay battle

HOSPITAL bosses have seen off a complaint from angry unions over a move to more than halve the amount of notice needed to cut staff pay.

The decision by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust to reduce the notice period from five years to two years prompted unions to lodge a grievance last June, when the policy came into effect.

The grievance has now been rejected following a hearing at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary chaired by Tim Bennett, deputy chief executive at the trust, which runs the hospital.

Unions have decided not to appeal but could renew their fight if the trust cuts the pay protection period to just six months, an idea it suggested last November. It is using a principle of ‘employment over earnings’ as it seeks to find £15m in savings for 2011/12 due to government funding cuts.

That raises the prospect of some staff facing pay cuts as managers protect jobs. NHS staff already face a three-year pay freeze. Kirk Panter, of the trust joint unions, said: “Someone could face a 30 per cent cut in pay if they are moved to a lower pay band, which could be a problem if they have a mortgage and a family to provide for.”

See the Lancaster Guardian (01-04-11) for full story.