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RCN sets up strike fund over ‘pitiful’ 1% pay rise recommendation

Fund would support members involved in industrial action as unions prepare for pay talks
A placard demanding fair pay for nurses displayed outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster

Fund would support members involved in industrial action as unions prepare for pay talks

The RCN has set up a 35 million industrial action fund in response to the governments pitiful 1% pay rise suggestion for nurses.

The colleges council took the unanimous decision amid growing anger over the governments recommendation to the independent NHS Pay Review Body for the 2021-22 pay round for Agenda for Change (AfC) staff. A strike fund can be used to provide compensation to trade union members for loss of earnings and campaigning during industrial action.

Finances available if members wish to take industrial action

In a statement, RCN council

Fund would support members involved in industrial action as unions prepare for pay talks

A placard demanding fair pay for nurses displayed outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster
Picture: Alamy

The RCN has set up a £35 million industrial action fund in response to the government’s ‘pitiful’ 1% pay rise suggestion for nurses.

The college’s council took the unanimous decision amid growing anger over the government’s recommendation to the independent NHS Pay Review Body for the 2021-22 pay round for Agenda for Change (AfC) staff. A strike fund can be used to provide compensation to trade union members for loss of earnings and campaigning during industrial action.

Finances available if members wish to take industrial action

In a statement, RCN council said it was determined to have the finances available to members should they wish to take action.

‘In setting up this fund, we will create the UK’s largest union strike fund overnight. The next steps will be decided in conjunction with our members,’ the statement said.

The RCN has also sent a joint letter with other unions to the chancellor expressing their 'utter dismay' over the government's pay recommendation.

'Health workers are the very people who have cared for more critically ill patients than was ever thought possible. They are working countless hours, many unpaid and at great personal risk because of their duty to the NHS and their fellow citizens,' says the letter which is signed by the RCN and three other unions including Unison.

'Now is when the government should demonstrate that it recognises the contribution of a workforce that has literally kept this country alive for the past year during a global pandemic.'

Nurses will have to wait until the summer to find out what pay rise will be offered. The review body, which advises the government on pay for the NHS’s AfC workforce, is not expected to make recommendations until May.

Many nurses took to social media, including the Nursing Standard Facebook page, to express their disappointment and anger over the government's NHS pay suggestion.

One critical care nurse said on Twitter that the news had left him more tired and deflated than during the first wave of the pandemic.

The prime minister defended the 1% pay offer on a visit to a COVID-19 vaccination centre in London on 7 March saying the government had tried to give staff 'as much as we can at the present time'.

Earlier health and social care secretary Matt Hancock repeated the claim that nurses had had a 12% pay rise over the past three years - a figure widely disputed by unions.

'I bow to nobody in my admiration for nurses,' Mr Hancock told a Downing Street press briefing on 5 March.

'I learned that at the knee of my grandmother, who was a nurse and worked nights at the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston.

'The challenge is that the nation's finances are tight and whilst everybody else in the public sector is going to have a pay freeze, we are able to propose a pay rise for nurses at 1%.'

‘Claps won’t pay the bills’: reaction on Nursing Standard’s Facebook page

Some of the comments left by nurses on Nursing Standard's Facebook page since the government's pay recommendation was revealed:

  • ‘It's a good job I stored up all those claps to pay my bills with. I'm not ungrateful, I'm glad I've actually still got a job, unlike many others due to the pandemic, but for all we have sacrificed throughout it, 1% is a kick in the teeth’
  • ‘The government knows what it is doing, they have timed this impeccably – if they had offered this at the height of the pandemic Joe Public would have been outraged. Now they offer it at a time when loads of people have lost jobs, incomes, businesses and the country is in dire financial straits, to the point the public now thinks we are lucky to still have a job’
  • ‘All those who have worked above and beyond duties being totally disregarded’
  • ‘My rent is due to increase by more than 1%, so effectively, between that and inflation, I will be losing money... again’
  • ‘I'll be at the food bank at this rate’


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