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Nurses indicate support for strike action over NHS pay awards

Over half of nurses say they would be prepared to take strike action over pay, according to an indicative ballot of Royal College of Nursing members working on Agenda for Change contracts in England and Wales.

In England, 23 per cent of eligible members voted, with 89 per cent of those saying they’d be willing to take action short of strike. Some 54 per cent of voters said they’d be willing to withdraw their labour in strike action. 

In Wales, 29 per cent of eligible members voted, with 91 per cent of those saying they’d be willing to take action short of strike. A total of 56 per cent of voters said they’d be willing to withdraw their labour in strike action.

The ballots were called after the vast majority of members who responded in our previous consultations said the 3 per cent NHS pay award for 2021/22 is unacceptable

Interim Chair of RCN Council Carol Popplestone said: “Nursing staff do not consider industrial action lightly. To reduce the risk to patients, politicians need to urgently boost our ranks by recruiting and retaining more nurses. Our members feel disrespected and devalued. 

“They are expected to work in unsafe conditions, yet their pleas for help go unanswered. This drives many out of the profession because they are not prepared to put patients at risk.”

RCN Trade Union Committee members will now consider the next steps. A statutory industrial action ballot would be required before any industrial action could take place. For such a ballot to be valid, at least 50 per cent of members in England and Wales would need to turn out to vote. Members will be the first to know when decisions are made.

In Scotland, members of the RCN Scotland Board will meet the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care next week to discuss the results of their indicative ballot. 

In this, 90 per cent of members who voted said they’d be willing to take industrial action short of strike over the Scottish NHS pay deal. Six in 10 would opt for strike action.

Download campaign materials and spread the word about fair pay. 

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