Care Quality Commission staff to strike in escalation of pay row

Staff are set to strike on Tuesday 2nd May.

Hundreds of staff at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are to strike for one day in a dispute over pay.

Staff represented by UNISON, including those working in inspection teams, call centres and data analysis, will be striking on Tuesday 2 May. Workers represented by the PCS and Unite will also be on strike on the same day.

CQC employees started a continuous work to rule on Monday 17 April 2023. This means they are only working the hours they are paid for, not doing overtime and talking all the breaks they are entitled to until September 2023.

UNISON balloted workers after employees received an imposed pay increase of between 2.75% and 3.5%. They also received a one-off payment of £100 or £150 depending on their salary grade last December 2022.

CQC staff regulate registered health and social care services across England including hospitals, care homes, GP practices and dental surgeries to ensure care is delivered safely.

They carry out planned, as well as urgent inspections following safeguarding concerns raised by the public or workers through the CQC’s call centre.

But low pay and huge workloads have left staff with no option but to leave the CQC for better paid jobs elsewhere, says UNISON.

The union says it expects that some CQC services will be affected as a result of the strike.

Urgent inspections to investigate issues raised before the action will be delayed until after the strike. People may also struggle to get through to the call centre on strike day, says UNISON.

The CQC currently isn’t able to directly negotiate pay settlements with unions as it is bound by civil service pay guidelines and rules.

UNISON says CQC workers want their senior leadership to put more pressure on the government. They would then get approval by ministers to negotiate an improved pay settlement for staff, according to the union.

UNISON national officer Matthew Egan said: “CQC employees do a vital job to ensure that patients, care home residents and others in need of support receive safe care.

“It’s a huge deal that CQC workers have decided to strike. Employees are reluctant to take action but many are struggling. Their wages have failed to keep up with the rising cost of living.

“CQC workers are critical in ensuring that registered providers and services deliver care safely. The government must recognise their contribution and let the employer reward them accordingly to limit disruptions.”