Pay offer: nurses react angrily, ballot on industrial action called
RCN calls on members to ‘turn the tide on low pay’ in upcoming ballot amid dismay over pay offer equating to around 4% for majority of nurses
Unions and nurses have reacted angrily to a ‘pitiful’ pay offer to nurses of a rise of £1,400 and the RCN has called an urgent ballot of members on industrial action.
The Department of Health and Social Care announced a pay offer for NHS staff on Tuesday that includes a 5.5% pay rise for newly qualified nurses and a pay rise of at least £1,400 for other nurses, equating to around 4% for the majority of nurses on bands 5 and 6. Nurses in higher bands, such as 8a, could be looking at an increase of just 2.6%.
The offer, which had been delayed by more than three months, prompted the RCN Council to call an emergency meeting that decided to ballot members on industrial action.
Following the emergency meeting last night, RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘Today the UK government confirmed its pay award for NHS staff in England for the year 2022-23. This is yet another pay cut in real terms and we’re clear that nursing deserves better. Tonight an emergency session of your elected Council voted that members in England will be balloted on industrial action.
‘After years of underpayment and staff shortages, the fight for fair pay must continue. Your voice in the upcoming ballot will be essential to turning the tide on low pay.’
Government has misjudged mood of nurses by failing to heed calls for a rise of 5% above inflation, says RCN
The RCN said the government had misjudged the mood of nursing staff by failing to heed calls for a pay rise of 5% above inflation, as well as growing public support for action including strikes.
RCN members will now be asked their views on next steps, with the union quickly preparing a ballot.
Unison and the TUC echoed warnings of real-term cuts for nurses, with Unison general secretary Christina McAnea saying industrial action may follow. She said: ‘Fed up staff might well now decide to take the matter into their own hands. If there is to be a dispute in the NHS, ministers will have no one to blame but themselves.’
Nurses on social media reacted in disgust at the offer, with many saying it was an ‘insult’, ‘pathetic’ and ‘dangerous’.
One nurse said: ‘This is a pay cut. With the levels of recruitment we need, this is a dangerous step for the government to take. Nurses, like all public sector workers, need to be paid fairly, this is a disgrace.’
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said yesterday that he ‘wanted a fair deal for staff’ but argued that ‘very high inflation-driven settlements would have a worse impact on pay packets in the long run.’
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