Members of the RCN are to be asked whether they would be willing to take industrial action in an indicative ballot launching soon, the union has announced.
Elected members on the RCN Trade Union Committee have made this decision to help determine the union’s next steps in the ongoing dispute over fair pay.
The move comes after 92% of members working for the NHS in England who voted in the RCN’s recent consultative ballot said the 3% pay award for 2021-22 is unacceptable.
These results have carefully considered by the RCN’s elected Trade Union Committee, factoring in the views of members on the RCN’s English regional boards, and they have decided the most appropriate course of action is to test members’ appetite for industrial action.
‘Today’s decision was taken by members, for members. Nursing staff from across the country are leading this campaign from the front and the RCN Trade Union Committee has listened to the views of members who voted,’ said Chair of the RCN Trade Union Committee Graham Revie.
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‘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.’
Members will be asked if they are willing to take action short of a strike – such as working contracted hours only – or strike action, which is the complete withdrawal of labour. The RCN has said that industrial action is always a last resort, but that they are also clear that the current staffing crisis in the NHS is causing unacceptable risk to patients and staff.
‘Politicians might be hoping our members would go quiet about NHS pay but with this announcement they are turning up the volume yet further,’ said Chair of RCN Council Carol Popplestone.
‘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.’
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The vote will open in the coming weeks with the launch date and more details available soon. The result of the indicative ballot will not formally authorise industrial action but will be used to inform what members do next.