Northamptonshire hospital ballots staff on pay-cut plan

Unions have condemned a hospital trust's plans to ask staff to take a pay cut as a "desperate ransom demand".

Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is to ask all staff if they would accept a pay cut equal to half a day's pay per month.

The trust must save up to £15m next year and calculates the pay cut would save £2.7m over the next two years.

Unison and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are urging members to boycott the vote.

The trust said the 2.3% pay cut for all staff was one of a number of possible savings being considered.

Others include higher car parking charges for staff, a greater number of redundancies and the outsourcing of services.

The trust said the original suggestion had been made by a member of staff.

The hospital said the vote was a survey rather than a ballot.

'Emotional blackmail'

In a leaked draft letter to employees, acting chief executive Mike Smeeton writes: "This is clearly a difficult decision for us all to make.

"The proposal to reduce everybody's pay by half a day per month would deliver up to £2.7m per year - it does not mean that there won't be any redundancies within the trust - but it does mean that the financial gap that has to be made up will be £2.7m smaller."

Gerry Looker, regional organiser from Unison, said: "Staff are not only being subject to pay freezes and massive hikes in pension contributions, but they are also being subjected to emotional blackmail to accept cuts in pay to save a foundation trust status and avoid additional redundancies.

"This is a false choice, one we oppose and which should never have been put to staff in the first instance."

Cliff Edwards, RCN operational manager for the East Midlands, said: "If the ballot goes ahead, we are advising our members not to condone it by taking part."

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