CQC could face strike action over pay dispute, says union


The Care Quality Commission (CQC) faces potential strike action among its staff next year in a dispute over pay.

Unison said the majority of CQC staff it represents are willing to take sustained action over their pay claim and will be balloted from January 21.

It explained that CQC staff have “endured years without a significant pay rise”, and since the start of 2010 the value of their wages has fallen by almost 20%.

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The trade union submitted a pay claim for a 5% pay increase with several other unions in June. However, all but the very lowest paid staff have been told that they are subject to the public sector pay freeze and won’t get anything this year. ​ 

Unison national officer Matt Egan commented: “These workers help to ensure the most vulnerable people in society receive safe and good quality care.

“It’s only right that the work and value of CQC staff should be recognised with a fair pay offer, given there’s a challenging winter ahead and how essential they are to the safe, efficient functioning of the health and care sectors..

“CQC employees are dedicated to their essential roles, so action is very much a last resort. But staff have had enough of years of falling pay. It’s not too late for ​the employer and the government to find a way for workers to be given the wages they more than deserve.

“Unison is happy to work with the CQC to help it make the case to the Department for Health and Social Care for ​why a proper pay ​rise is more than justified.” 

Defending the pay freeze, a CQC spokesperson said: “CQC like many other arms lengths bodies and government departments are subject to the Chancellor’s announcement on public sector pay made in November 2020.

“The announcement set out that as part of the Spending Review (2020) there would be a temporary pause on pay rises for most public sector workforces in 2021/22, including the Civil Service. Whilst at CQC,  we are not contractual Civil Servants, we are an arm’s-length body bound by the Civil Service pay guidance and rules.”

The spokesperson continued: “The pay guidance for 2021/2022 sets out the requirements of the pay pause; this does include however provision for colleagues on a full-time equivalent base pay of under £24,000 p.a. excluding overtime to receive a small uplift of  £250. This has already been implemented in CQC. The arrangements for pay rises resulting from promotion continue, as does overtime and payment of allowances at the current rate.

“We have throughout this period engaged with our joint trade unions, recognising this exceptionally challenging time. We also are extremely proud and value each and every one of our colleagues for the contribution they make. Whilst we know our recognised trade unions are disappointed with the restrictions the difficult reality is that we must adhere to the rules as set out, we have made the best and only pay offer permissible in the current circumstances. We are however looking to the future and will continue to work in partnership with our trade union colleagues on all aspects of pay and reward for the future.”

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Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke