Fight for pay and conditions needs ‘noisy nurses’
Congress backs resolution that RCN Council work with employers to ensure pay review body’s recommendations are upheld
Nurses have made an impassioned plea for their pay and conditions to be protected, amid claims that some staff are struggling to make ends meet.
Delegates at RCN congress in Glasgow heard on Monday (20 June) that some of the UK governments were not respecting the recommendations of the independent pay review body and that pay for nurses in England had fallen by 14% in real terms since 2011.
North Yorkshire branch delegate Janet Eastwood told congress that ongoing pay restraint was having a huge impact, and that the RCN council should work with employers to uphold the Agenda for Change negotiated agreement.
‘Nurses and healthcare assistants are taking second jobs and relying on food banks,’ Ms Eastwood said. ‘Financial compensation for unsocial hours is under threat. Changes to that will hit nurses hard.’
She said that attacking nurse pay would also affect patient care.
Nursing student Graham Stokes, of Brighton, said it was time to take action and for nurses to get involved with the RCN at branch level.
‘We don’t have to take strike action; we just need to be noisy nurses. Let’s start the hashtag “noisy nurses for fair pay”. We have passion and dedication, let’s do this.’
Paul Phillips from Glasgow said it was not just about pay, but terms and conditions as well.
Roisin Devlin from Northern Ireland, where the RCN fought a successful battle to improve pay for nurses, said they had to take action because nurses were earning considerably less than their colleagues in England and Scotland.
Student Sam Newman, from Inner East London branch, said the public sector was paying for bankers’ greed and austerity – and said nurses should learn from the example of striking junior doctors.
‘Junior doctors showed us what could be achieved, and they enjoyed huge public support. It’s time for more than strong words and hashtags. We need to show just how powerful and united the nursing voice is.’
The resolution was passed with seven abstentions.