Threat of Nurses' Industrial Action Over Pay Grows

Alan Jones

October 07, 2021

The threat of industrial action by nursing staff over pay has come a step nearer amid fresh warnings to the Government that its 3% award to NHS workers is "completely unacceptable".

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced that an indicative ballot on industrial action is to be held in England to determine the next steps in its campaign.

The result will determine whether a formal industrial action ballot will be held.

RCN members, as well as other health workers' unions, have already made clear their opposition to the 3% rise.

Members working for the NHS in England will be asked in the coming weeks if they are willing to take action short of a strike, such as working their contracted hours only, or a complete withdrawal of labour.

Pay Campaign

The RCN, which is calling for a 12.5% pay rise for nursing staff, said industrial action should be a last resort but warned that the current NHS staffing crisis was causing "unacceptable risk" to patients and staff.

In Northern Ireland, a formal pay announcement is still awaited, while in Scotland, RCN members will vote in an indicative ballot from October 12, and RCN members in Wales will be announcing their next steps in due course.

Carol Popplestone, who chairs the RCN Council, said: "Politicians might be hoping our members would go quiet about NHS pay but with this announcement they are turning up the volume yet further.

"We are a patient safety-critical profession, but currently forced to operate with tens of thousands of missing nurses – patient care is suffering.

"Only by paying nursing staff fairly will you stop experienced staff from leaving and encourage the next generation to join a fantastic career.

"Our members must vote when the time comes and tell us whether they believe industrial action is what's needed. Politicians still have many opportunities to do the right thing by nursing."

Graham Revie, chairman of the RCN Trade Union Committee, said: "Our members were very clear in telling the Prime Minster that his NHS pay deal was completely unacceptable – it fails the test of fairness and it fails to address the current crisis by not taking action to safely staff our wards and clinics.

"When the vote opens across England, the power is once again in the hands of nursing staff. I urge as many members as possible to speak up and tell us whether they believe industrial action is needed to turn things around for our patients."

This article contains information from PA Media.

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