RCN to consult members on response to continued pay restraint
The RCN is to consult nurses on how it should respond to continuing pay restraint – including whether members should consider taking industrial action.
The governments of England, Scotland and Wales have all announced the below-inflation 1% pay cap is set to remain for the 2017-18 pay round.
On Wednesday, members of RCN Council voted to ask members about the impact of pay restraint and how the college should respond, including whether members should consider taking industrial action.
The shape of the consultation will be decided in the coming weeks and will be launched before RCN Congress in May.
Speaking to Nursing Standard after the meeting, RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: 'As a membership organisation what we want to do now is find out what our members think. We will be contacting members to see what they want us to do next.'
She stressed that council and the board were clear they did not want to put a steer on the outcome of the consultation, and it would therefore include open questions.
'We will be doing it as soon as we can. We clearly need to know how people are feeling before congress, and by congress we should have a feeling of what members want to do, because it is about them getting involved in campaigns and activities.'
Ms Davies confirmed there would be an agenda item on pay and the future campaign at congress, which will be held in Liverpool on May 13-17.
'It's not a call for industrial action. It isn't a ballot, we just need to know what people want us to do next.
'There are members expressing concern about their financial situation and how it's getting worse, and they are not feeling valued. We need to know more. The council and board did not feel it was a decision they could make on members behalf.'
The college called the decision to keep the pay cap in place for 2017-18 a 'bitter blow to nursing staff', while Unison dismissed the below inflation increase as 'derisory'.
Ms Davies added that continued pay restraint, compounded with other issues including the scrapping of the bursary for nursing students in England from August, had left many nurses feeling 'undervalued and demoralised'.
'We are hearing people are getting to retirement age and looking forward to retiring – whereas before they might have wanted to work longer, we are hearing people are wanting to leave the NHS but, we don't know what our members want to do to state their case.'
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