“On Sunday night, the rail unions rejected an eight per cent pay rise, which is bigger than the pay deal offered to nurses and other public sector workers.”
An article published in the Daily Telegraph, and online, on 5 December claims the 8% pay rise offered by the Rail Delivery Group to striking rail workers and rejected by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) is “bigger than the pay deal offered to nurses”.
However, as the article goes on to point out, the 8% pay increase being offered to rail workers covers a two year period (2022-2023), with a 4% rise in each year. But the article does not explain that the pay increase implemented for most NHS staff, including nurses, earlier this year covers a 12-month period. This means the two are not directly comparable.
We don’t yet know how nurses’ pay might change in 2023, so we can’t say how total pay offers for nurses will ultimately compare with the pay offer for rail workers over a two-year period.
So while it is true that rail workers have currently been offered a bigger percentage pay uplift in total than nurses, their deal covers two years rather than one, so the increases aren't directly comparable.
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What’s been offered
According to Reuters and ITV, the Rail Delivery Group’s offer would see rail workers employed by 14 train operating companies with which the RMT is in dispute given a 4% pay increase backdated to January 2022, with a further 4% increase taking effect in the new year. We’ve contacted the Rail Delivery Group to confirm this.
A separate offer from Network Rail, with whom the RMT is also in dispute, would give rail workers employed by Network Rail a 5% pay increase backdated to January 2022, and a further 4% increase in the new year. This offer is set to be voted on by RMT members, however the union has advised them to reject it.
In comparison, the recent pay increase implemented for NHS staff in England covers a 12 month period, backdated to April 2022, and applies until the end of this financial year in March 2023, at which point pay will be reviewed again.
Most NHS staff, including nurses, received a £1,400 consolidated pay increase, with staff in some pay bands given an additional increase beyond the £1,400, for a total pay increase of 4% — effectively the same percentage increase as would be given to rail workers over a 12-month period under the recent offer.
For a nurse earning the average basic pay for nurses of £35,600, a £1,400 uplift represents an increase of approximately 4%, while a newly-qualified nurse earning £25,655 in 2021/22 has seen a bigger increase in their basic pay of 5.5%.
This is a calculation of the increase relative to a nurse’s basic pay, which doesn’t take into account other payments they may receive, like overtime, unsocial hours pay and supplements for those in high cost areas (for example, people who live in London).
A nurse earning the average basic pay for nurses therefore received a pay increase offer roughly the same as the Rail Delivery Group’s offer to rail workers over a 12-month period.
Image courtesy of Tomek Baginski