Unison clashes with social enterprise East Coast Community Healthcare over pay increase

Jonathan Williams, the new CEO of East Coast Community Care. Picture: Denise Bradley

Jonathan Williams, the new CEO of East Coast Community Care. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

A row has erupted between a union and healthcare social enterprise over a pay rise awarded to their chief executive.

Unison said Jonathan Williams, chief executive at East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH), received a 9.5pc pay rise last year which staff, many of whom are also shareholders in the organisation, did not know about.

However, ECCH said staff shareholders were told and as no rise had taken place in five years a salary review was always intended when the role was advertised in 2014. This was because the CEO pay scale had not been reviewed for four years, and was then delayed for a further year.

ECCH's acting chair Tony Osmanski said: 'The figure equates to an annual increase of 1.9pc per year, had the pay been reviewed each year for those five years. The average staff pay increase at ECCH over that period has been 2.5pc annually with some staff being awarded 5pc and above.'

Unison disputed this and in a survey run by the union, some staff said they felt the situation was unfair.

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One said: 'I thought staff always got a say in a social enterprise. Obviously not as we weren't consulted.' Another added: 'We are cutting back on services and have lost some contracts. I think this level of increase is appalling.'

However, Mr Osmanski said the salary was set by ECCH's remuneration committee and ratified by the board which includes two staff directors appointed by fellow staff.

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He said the committee set the salary 'at what it considers to be a competitive rate of pay for this very responsible role,' and it was guided by NHS payscales and was 'significantly lower than that of CEOs at other local NHS organisations'. He added the issue was specifically discussed with staff shareholders at ECCH's annual general meeting.

But Jennie Anderson, Unison Eastern area organiser, said: 'We have surveyed members and the results are not in favour of board members acting this way. Many of our members are shareholders and nearly all have said they are 'not happy at all' and 'the job [they] do is just as valuable so [they] should get the same percent pay increase'. No updates to staff ever mention this raise, yet if staff received the raise, this would have been shouted from the hilltops by management.'

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