Industrial action threat over pay ‘very much alive’, RCN warns

The RCN will ballot members over industrial action later this year if the government continues its refusal to scrap the pay cap, the college’s general secretary has warned.

The RCN will ballot members over industrial action later this year if the government continues its refusal to scrap the pay cap, the college's general secretary has warned.

The timeline for a ballot on industrial action will be decided by the autumn budget.
 Picture: iStock

Janet Davies told Nursing Standard: 'We have not changed our position. The promise made at RCN congress was about wanting the cap scrapped, and we said if we don’t achieve that the next step is a ballot.

‘The threat is still very much alive.’

She said the timeline for a members’ ballot would be determined by the autumn budget.

‘We would like to hear news before the budget.’

Rallying cry

Speaking to Nursing Standard ahead of Thursday's day of action, which saw nurses across the UK take to the streets in protest at the 1% pay cap, Ms Davies said she wanted to send a ‘rallying cry’ to members to get involved and tell their own stories about how pay restraint has affected their lives.

Ms Davies also criticised recent ‘misleading’ comments by government that nurses were already receiving pay rises above the 1% cap.

Earlier this month, prime minister Theresa May told MPs that ‘many nurses’ received increments and progression pay, in addition to the 1% annual rise.

Ms May said: ‘A typical band 5 nurse will receive 3.8% over and above the 1%.’


Ms Davies said: ‘It is misleading and unfortunate – only some nurses get increments, and the top of the pay band is the correct rate for a nurse of that grade.’

She said the increments beneath this reflected training and development progression.

‘Now they are saying that nurses are getting pay rises, but (this incremental progression) is only putting them at the level they should be putting them at.’

She added that 50% of nurses were at the top of their bands and were not progressing.

‘It is the most experienced missing out, and these are exactly the people we don’t want to lose.’


Earlier in July, environment secretary Michael Gove suggested the government could support a lifting of the public-sector pay cap for NHS workers.

Mr Gove said it was the ‘collective view of government’ to respect the integrity of independent public-sector pay review bodies, one of which warned in March that the 1% cap was putting ‘stress’ on the health service.

Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston also called for the pay cap to be reviewed.

The comments followed a failed attempt by the Labour Party on 28 June to amend the Queen’s Speech to lift wage restrictions for nurses and other public-sector workers, and to abandon cuts to emergency services.

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