A proposed three-year pay settlement deal for public sector workers must protect nurses from any future rises in inflation, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) General Secretary Dr Peter Carter has said.
Reacting to the announcement by the prime minister that public sector workers, including nurses, could have their salaries set for three years rather than 12 months, Dr Carter said:
"Irrespective of whether salaries are set for three years or 12 months, what nurses want and deserve is a fair deal. And given that mortgages, council tax, transport costs and energy bills are all on the rise right now, a fair deal for nurses is one that reflects the real cost of living."
Gordon Brown announced yesterday (8 January 2008) that it was vital to secure a "low inflation economy" that has the "flexibility to make the right decisions".
Establishing fixed pay deals over three years with workers such as nurses and teachers would help control inflation and make it easier for workers to budget for the long-term, the prime minister said.
Chancellor Alistair Darling said the UK has a low level of inflation compared with the US and Eurozone. Three-year pay deals woud not only help keep inflation down but also help government departments manage their spending plans, he said.
But Dr Carter of the RCN insisted: "If we were to sign up to a long-term pay settlement in today's volatile economy we must have a mechanism that will protect the living standards of nurses from any future rises in inflation.
"What's right now may not be right in two years' time.
"There are good multi-year deals and bad multi-year deals. The difference between the two depends on how much is on the table. So we await with interest the full details of what the government has in mind."
Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"The government must understand that it cannot continue to expect more and more from all health service workers, with less and less resources. Morale is very low among both clinical and admin staff, especially in primary care. How can we expect to hold on to good, dedicated staff when they can earn more at the supermarket?" – Kath Edwards, Practice Manager, South Birmingham
"The main thing that seems obvious is that 'fixed' and 'flexible' are surely a contradiction in terms! Making a three-year 'fixed' deal is certainly easier to 'manage' – especially in budgets – but to add a 'fairness' guarantee, a link to readdress the balance if inflation goes beyond a certain level could be added" – Name and address supplied
"Any government 'pay deal' must be fully funded, especially for primary care" – Name and address supplied