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RCN will fight employers who undermine pay and conditions

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The RCN has pledged to fight employers who attempt to undermine nurses' terms and conditions, citing the collapse of the south west 'pay cartel' as a cautionary example.

Speaking at the RCN Congress in Liverpool last month, RCN general secretary Dr Peter Carter claimed the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium (branded a pay cartel by health unions) had 'concluded' its work.

The consortium of 16 NHS trusts in south west England had sought to move away from national AfC arrangements and to introduce regional negotiation on pay, terms and conditions.

Following lobbying by the RCN, Unison and Unite, the consortium's latest report recommends trusts work to implement national pay, terms and conditions.'

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Dorset County Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have issued statements to staff confirming their involvement in the work of the cartel has concluded and that they will not be involved with any future work of the consortium.

Dr Carter said: 'The south west has been a battleground between the RCN and the infamous pay cartel. Our team in the region has been protesting and rallying and the cartel is collapsing. Let this be a lesson to employers; we will fight you.'

In March, the RCN agreed to support changes to national pay arrangements, under the AfC pay framework used by a million NHS staff in England.

They include changes to incremental pay progression, which would have to be 'earned', sickness absence paid at basic level during unsocial hours and removal of accelerated pay progression for new entrants to band five.

Dr Carter told Congress: 'We do not want AfC to become inflexible; we accepted the proposal to protect it.'

But Rachel Maskell, head of health at Unite, does not share the RCN's confidence in the collapse of the cartel, saying it is merely in 'hibernation'.

She said: 'The south west cartel has paid £10,000 into research and support to work out how to cut staff pay. This includes 60 proposals to cut terms and conditions. The cartel will come back in June and may force through its cuts .

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