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Pay dispute: strike ballot opens for nurses across the UK

RCN urges its members to vote in favour of strike action after rejecting government’s below-inflation pay offer of 4% in England and Wales and 5% in Scotland

RCN urges its members to vote in favour of strike action after rejecting government’s below-inflation pay offer of 4% in England and Wales and 5% in Scotland

Some 300,000 nurses across the UK will begin voting today on whether to take strike action over poor pay.

RCN members will be asked about their willingness to take part in industrial action, including a withdrawal of labour.

RCN opens its first ever UK-wide strike ballot

The ballot is over the government’s pay increase offer of £1,400 – or 4% – in England and Wales and 5% in Scotland. Nurses in Northern Ireland are yet to be offered a pay increase but will still take part in the ballot.

RCN urges its members to vote in favour of strike action after rejecting government’s below-inflation pay offer of 4% in England and Wales and 5% in Scotland

Picture of four hands putting voting slips in a red ballot box
Picture: iStock

Some 300,000 nurses across the UK will begin voting today on whether to take strike action over poor pay.

RCN members will be asked about their willingness to take part in industrial action, including a withdrawal of labour.

RCN opens its first ever UK-wide strike ballot

The ballot is over the government’s pay increase offer of £1,400 – or 4% – in England and Wales and 5% in Scotland. Nurses in Northern Ireland are yet to be offered a pay increase but will still take part in the ballot.

It is the first UK-wide ballot in the RCN’s 106-year history, and the college is urging members to support what would be the first ever nursing strike in England, Wales and Scotland. RCN members in Northern Ireland went on strike for the first time in the union’s history in 2019.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘This is a once in a generation chance to improve your pay and combat the staff shortages that put patients at risk.

‘Governments have repeatedly neglected the NHS and the value of nursing. We can change this if together we say: “enough is enough”.

‘Record numbers are feeling there is no alternative but to quit. Patients are paying a heavy price but we are doing this for them too. Nursing is the best job in the world. Protect it with your vote.’

RCN leaders urge members to take a stand against real-terms pay cut

RCN Scotland board chair Julie Lambeth added: ‘That we have got to this point is simply shocking, but we have been left with no option. For years we have been overlooked and undervalued and expected to carry on regardless.

‘This is our opportunity to take a stand, for our patients and our profession, to show the Scottish Government that they must act now, and this is why I am urging members to vote in favour of strike action.’

It comes as new analysis by London Economics shows pay for nurses has declined at twice the rate of the private sector in the past decade. Nurses’ real-terms earnings have fallen by 6% compared with 3.2% for private sector employees, the analysis found.

The RCN has been campaigning for a pay rise of 5% above inflation. It has heavily criticised pay offers around the UK saying they fail to match the rising cost of living.

Scottish minister promises ‘significantly improved’ pay offer

Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf yesterday told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that nurses and other health workers could expect a ‘significantly improved’ pay offer when he meets with unions next week.

He said he will do everything in his power to prevent industrial action after the 5% pay increase offered by the Scottish Government was rejected.

The RCN ballot will run from 6 October until 12 noon on 2 November.


Find out more

RCN: Industrial action strike ballot FAQs


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