News

First ever strike by RCN members moves a step closer

College paves the way for Jersey nurses’ strike ballot if fresh pay talks end in deadlock

College paves the way for Jersey nurses’ strike ballot if fresh pay talks end in deadlock

The first ever walk-out by RCN members is growing increasingly likely after the college authorised a strike ballot for the first time in its 103-year history.

The RCN's ruling council unanimously agreed the Jersey branch can ballot its members on taking strike action over pay, if mediation does not achieve a better offer from the island's States of Jersey government.

Around 600 nurses working for the main hospital and community services in Jersey will be eligible to vote.

Historic decision

Permission to hold a strike ballot is the first major decision announced by the newly elected RCN council members when they met for the first time this week.

The historic move comes after 62% of voting nurses rejected a ‘final’ pay offer by the States of Jersey, which had proposed a 3.1% pay rise for 2018, and 3% rise for 2019. 

‘We hope it doesn’t come to a walk-out, but the States should be in no doubt our members will not be ignored again’

The offer would bring the starting salary for newly qualified nurses up to £39,174.91. Although this is £16,000 more than the entry point for Band 5 in England's NHS, the offer fails to give nurses pay parity with allied health professionals, with some nurses paid as much as £3,000 less than comparable AHPs. In addition, the cost of living on the island is higher than that in the UK.

'Years of unequal pay'

RCN South East regional director Lindsay Meeks said: 'This historic decision has come after years of poor pay and a desultory offer from the States government.

'It reflects the strength of feeling among our members, after years of unequal pay that is driving people away from the island, and ultimately risks patient safety as nurse numbers dwindle.'

Ms Meeks said that if a strike goes ahead, members would take every precaution to ensure treatment and care remains safe.

'We hope it doesn’t come to a walk-out, but the States should be in no doubt our members will not be ignored again,' she said. 

The RCN will re-enter mediation with the the States Employment Board next week, as a last resort before balloting members.

A States Employment Board spokesperson expressed ‘disappointment’ that any union would contemplate industrial action.


In other news

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.

Jobs