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Nurse pay: Scottish ballot result shows appetite for strike action

Most RCN members who responded said they rejected the 5% pay offer and gave the ‘clearest signal yet that industrial action is on the cards this year’

Most RCN members who responded said they rejected the 5% pay offer and gave the ‘clearest signal yet that industrial action is on the cards this year’

Nurses in Scotland have taken a step closer to striking after a ballot showed most are willing to take part in industrial action.

In an indicative ballot of RCN Scotland members, more than 90% of respondents voted to reject the Scottish Government’s pay offer of 5%. The college said most respondents voted in favour of taking strike action.

The RCN claimed the number of members voting had more than doubled compared with 2021 and

Most RCN members who responded said they rejected the 5% pay offer and gave the ‘clearest signal yet that industrial action is on the cards this year’

Scottish nurse ballot
Picture: iStock

Nurses in Scotland have taken a step closer to striking after a ballot showed most are willing to take part in industrial action.

In an indicative ballot of RCN Scotland members, more than 90% of respondents voted to reject the Scottish Government’s pay offer of 5%. The college said most respondents voted in favour of taking strike action.

The RCN claimed the number of members voting had more than doubled compared with 2021 and exceeds the legal threshold required on turnout to allow industrial action to take place. The college reported that more than 60% of members had turned out to vote.

Nurses ‘are saying enough is enough’

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said the results were the ‘clearest signal yet that industrial action is on the cards this year’.

‘Nursing staff have been neglected for too long and the workforce crisis ignored. They are seeing the NHS increasingly close to collapse and the safety of their patients put at risk. They are saying enough is enough.

‘Industrial strike action should always be a last resort, but too many nursing staff are leaving the profession because they cannot afford to be a nurse. This is creating staff shortages that are putting patient safety at risk, and the government’s failure to listen has left us with no choice.’

Imminent ballot could lead to strike action

The vote in Scotland is the first NHS ballot the RCN has run this year, with a statutory ballot set to open in England and Wales next month.

Scottish members are now set to be added to the statutory ballot, the college said.

If members support strike action, as urged by the RCN, it will be the first-ever strike by RCN members in England, Wales or Scotland. RCN members went on strike for the first time in Northern Ireland in 2019. 

RCN Scotland ‘will be urging members to support strike action’

RCN Scotland board chair Julie Lambeth said: ‘We are clear that this pay offer doesn’t recognise the skill and responsibility of the job we do. It does nothing to protect patient safety by addressing the chronic levels of staff shortages or help nursing staff cope with the cost of living crisis.

‘Enough is enough. In all my years in nursing I have never known such strength of determination amongst nursing staff. We will be urging members to support strike action and I encourage every eligible member to use their vote when the time comes.’

All four UK nations seeing nurse anger over pay

‘I’m talking to nursing staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and they are just as angry and determined as their Scottish counterparts,’ Ms Cullen said. ‘I am expecting these figures to be replicated at the very least in the next ballots.’

A formal pay announcement for 2022-23 is yet to be made in Northern Ireland.


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