Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have voted in favour of industrial action up to and including strike.
Over 50,000 members responded to the union’s pay poll, conducted in April. A decisive 91 per cent said they would support industrial action short of a strike and 78 per cent said they were prepared to go on strike.
A formal ballot on industrial action will be held later this summer if the government continues with its 1 percent pay cap policy.
The pay cap has been in force since 2010 and has resulted in a 14 per cent real terms pay cut for nursing staff, says the RCN.
There will be a ‘summer of protest activity’ in the NHS across the UK, announced the Chair of the RCN Council, Michael Brown.
The RCN has never voted on strike action before in its 100-year history.
“Our members have given us the very clear message that they can’t and won’t take any more. This is an unprecedented show of anger and frustration over the Government’s pay policy. Politicians must now listen and tell us what they will do about nursing pay. It’s a message to all parties that the crisis in nursing recruitment must be put centre stage in this election”, continued Brown.
“Our argument is not with patients – this is about ensuring that they get the safe and effective care they need. The 1% cap on nursing pay is putting patient care at risk. It’s not just the RCN saying this – we heard from NHS trust leaders last week that if nursing staff aren’t paid a proper wage, they won’t be able to keep patients safe’, added Janet Davis, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN.
“As a nurse, the last thing I want is to strike to strike and leave my patients, but I don’t think the public understand that the government are eroding the NHS, cut service by cut service, exhausted nurse by exhausted nurse”, said an anonymous London nurse.
“We have to do something to make the government and the public understand our and the NHS’s worth. You don’t know what you’ve got until its gone. And believe me it’s going – right now”.