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Unions issue ultimatum over ‘pay cartel’

Unions have threatened to walk away from national talks on changes to pay and terms and conditions unless employers stop the South West “pay cartel”.

The South West pay, terms and conditions consortium has been accused of undermining national talks on potential changes to the Agenda for Change framework since it was formed in May.

HSJ understands unions last week issued an ultimatum to end the plans, which involve 20 trusts in the region seeking their own changes to the AfC framework.

The consortium has outlined proposed changes more significant than those proposed nationally. They include reducing annual leave, extra working hours and reducing benefits.

At a meeting on Friday, unions told NHS Employers that it must take action urgently to bring the consortium “into line”, or national negotiations could collapse, with the possible threat of industrial action.

Christina McAnea, Unison head of health and chair of the NHS staff side council, said unions wanted a national agreement, “but not at any cost”.

Speaking before the meeting she said: “It really is crunch time for employers and the national negotiations, as far as all the unions are concerned. We have to have some indication they will bring the South West into line and stop it.”

She said without that commitment “we would probably have to walk away from” national negotiations.

NHS Employers has said trusts will consider pursuing their own solutions locally until a national agreement is reached.

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