More than 41,000 nurses have said they would be willing to strike over low pay, according to the results of a poll from the Royal College of Nursing.
Announcing the results at RCN Congress in Liverpool, it was revealed that 78% of the 50,000 nurses who voted would be willing to strike, while 91% said they would be willing to take another form of industrial action over the government’s maintenance of the 1% pay rise cap.
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Due to the requirements of the Trade Union Act, 78% is not a large enough mandate to stage a strike. The RCN will not launch an immediate formal ballot. Michael Brown, chair of the RCN elected council, announced that there will be a ‘summer of protest activity’ in the NHS across the UK.
Mr Brown said: ‘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.
‘We’re demanding answers on behalf of our patients as well as nursing staff. If we don’t stand up now, how can we guarantee their future safety and wellbeing?'
Read more: Thousands of nurses take part in poll on possible strikes
Unless the next government drops the 1% cap on pay – which has left nursing staff with a 14% real-terms pay cut since 2010 – the RCN will ballot on industrial action later this year without a further poll of its members, the union has warned.
The final turnout of the pay poll was 52,434 of the 270,000 RCN members working in the NHS.
‘The RCN has never gone on strike before, so balloting our members would be a very significant step,’ said Mr Brown. ‘We’ve heard from members that they want to send a much tougher message to government which is why we will be leading them in a summer of protest activity.
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‘They have been clear that if the next government doesn’t respond and lift the unreasonable cap on nursing pay, they want us to ballot on industrial action. It would be the first time RCN members came out and took industrial action in our 100-year history.’
The general election will take place on 8 June.