The States also says all public sector pay negotiations for 2020 and future years are now being paused, given the “enormity of potential and unquantified demands” on public funding caused by the Coronavirus crisis.
Prospect and all the other unions affected were only told about the decision less than two hours before it was made public.
Members of three unions on Agenda for Change terms – Prospect, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives – had previously rejected the 2019 pay offers and have been in dispute with the States of Guernsey (see background below).
The imposed offer will give nurses and other health care professionals in the Agenda for Change group a 5% pay increase from January 2019, and a further 5% increase from September 2019 (for 2020).
The unions are dismayed that there is no commitment to address the pay differentials between Agenda for Change staff and their Established Staff colleagues, which has been at the root of the pay dispute.
Prospect negotiator Ben Middleton said: “The unions obviously understand that everyone is focused on addressing the current public health crisis. But Guernsey’s government has missed an opportunity to boost morale in the health service when members are facing increasing pressures.
“We remain open and willing to engage in negotiations to reach a fair offer to put to our members.
“Imposing this offer does not mean that our dispute is over – if anything, it strengthens our resolve to ensure Agenda for Change staff are paid what they deserve.
“We will be working with our colleagues in the other unions to see what we can do to get the policy and resources committee to reconsider its actions.”
Established Staff (essentially civil servants but also allied health professionals and a number of other groups) had rejected a 2.4% pay award for 2019.
The unions were seeking to finalise talks with the employer for what would amount to a two-year deal spanning 2019/2020.
The disputed 2.4% for this group for 2019 has been implemented, but their pay dispute has not been resolved.
As their pay date is 1 January 2020, they are unhappy that this year’s pay award will be delayed indefinitely.
Agenda for Change staff
A smaller number of Prospect members are employed in allied health professional roles and are on Agenda for Change terms.
In common with nurses and midwives (RCN, RCM and Unite members), these staff have an ongoing dispute around pay parity.
AfC staff pay has lagged behind that of equivalent graded roles in the Established Staff for years.
Recent work by the employer to seek to harmonise pay and grading across different pay groups highlighted the stark nature of that disparity.
Consequently, the employer offered to reduce the gap in 2019/2020 by paying a 5% and 5% award (roughly equating to inflation +2.5%).
RCN, RCM and Prospect members rejected the offer because the employer did not have a clear plan to address the overall pay gap in a reasonable time frame.
RCN members had voted to strike to put pressure on the States to resolve the dispute. This had got to the industrial disputes tribunal stage and negotiations had been reopened before the employer announced that it was imposing the offer.
Even though the offer appears to be generous, this group is angry because repeat awards at that level would take decades to erode the gap.
The moratorium on any further pay talks simply kicks the can further down the road.