RCN Northern Ireland may call off ballot following pay commitment

Ballot on industrial action may be called off after health minister commits to pay round

RCN Northern Ireland may call off a ballot on industrial action after the country’s health minister agreed to recommend that independent guidance on pay is honoured.

Health minister Simon Hamilton announced this week that he will seek the views of the independent NHS Pay Review Body (RB) for the 2016/17 pay round and will recommend that its conclusions are honoured. 

The college is due to ballot its members on February 17 over what it sees as an ‘unsatisfactory’ 2015/16 pay award.

Agenda for Change staff at the top of their pay bands will receive a 1% non-consolidated payment, but all other staff will only receive incremental pay progression.

The RCN said despite the minister not retracting this pay award, his commitment for 2016/17 is a ‘significant undertaking’. 

Its board is now considering whether to call off the ballot ‘in light of developments’. 

Mr Hamilton said he had listened to nurses’ concerns and held discussions with the RCN before making his decision.

He said: ‘I believe that it is in the interests not just of nurses and other health service staff but also, perhaps more importantly, of the patients, clients and wider public whom we are all here to serve, that we return to the RB in respect of the 2016-2017 award.’

RCN Northern Ireland director Janice Smyth said: ‘We believe that this is a milestone in our campaign to get fair pay and fair treatment for Northern Ireland nurses.’

She added that the college will provide ‘comprehensive’ evidence to the RB.



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