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‘Shocked, angry and deflated’: nurses react to ballot after losing strike mandate

Social media posts show a profession let down by punitive trade union laws – and a continued determination to push for better pay and patient safety
RCN members on a picket line on May Day 2023 in Exeter, Devon: nurses have expressed their frustration after a bid to secure further strike action came to an end

Social media posts show a profession let down by punitive trade union laws – and a continued determination to push for better pay and patient safety

‘Shocked, angry and deflated’ – this is how nurses have reacted after a bid to secure further strike action came to an end.

Overwhelming majority of voters said yes to further strike action

The majority of nurses (84%) who voted in the latest ballot of RCN members in England said they were in favour of pressing ahead with more strikes. But turnout did not meet the threshold required under trade union laws, coming in at 43% – which was 7% short of the required 50% threshold.

Social media posts show a profession let down by punitive trade union laws – and a continued determination to push for better pay and patient safety

RCN members on a picket line on May Day 2023 in Exeter, Devon: nurses have expressed their frustration after a bid to secure further strike action came to an end
RCN members on a picket line on May Day 2023 in Exeter, Devon Picture: Apex

‘Shocked, angry and deflated’ – this is how nurses have reacted after a bid to secure further strike action came to an end.

Overwhelming majority of voters said yes to further strike action

The majority of nurses (84%) who voted in the latest ballot of RCN members in England said they were in favour of pressing ahead with more strikes. But turnout did not meet the threshold required under trade union laws, coming in at 43% – which was 7% short of the required 50% threshold.

Had the vote been valid, it would have paved the way for a further six months of walkouts at NHS organisations across England.

Nurses expressed their disappointment at the outcome on social media, describing it as ‘a big blow to nursing’.

Many hit out at trade unions laws, which require at least 50% of members to take part in a ballot for the vote to count.

‘A sad day’ as nurses express frustration over ‘mixed messages’ from union and postal ballot failures

But some criticised the ‘apathy’ and ‘mixed messages’ from the union, with others questioning whether it was a ‘reconciliation [from nurses] that things will never change’.

Nurses also continued to raise concerns about the postal voting system – another legal requirement – with many claiming ballots did not arrive or were received too late to meet the voting deadline.

‘So many people asked and asked and asked for their ballot papers and were never sent them,’ said Rhian Hodgson on Facebook.

Community nursing sister Nicola Brooks was among those who said her ballot paper did not arrive.

Nurses urged to contine fight for fair pay and better patient safety, despite ballot results

Others urged colleagues not to be disheartened, highlighting that 100,000 nurses had voted to strike.

Specialist nurse Louise Johnson said: ‘100,000 nurses voting to strike is no small thing. The anti-union laws may have put a barrier up for now, but we can’t give up.

‘Now, more than ever, nurses must stay engaged, stay active and keep fighting.’

The RCN said the outcome of the ballot was disappointing but pledged to continue to push for fair pay for nursing and safe staffing.


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