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Strike ballot: some international nurses ‘say they can’t afford to vote yes’

Overseas nurses should be reassured that they are safe and won’t face NMC action, despite the ‘undercurrent of fear’ over strike repercussions, says RCN regional board member

Overseas nurses should be reassured that they are safe and won’t face NMC action, despite the ‘undercurrent of fear’ over strike repercussions, says RCN regional board member

Some international nurses say they are not planning to vote on strike action because they cannot afford to lose a day’s pay, an RCN regional board member has suggested.

Recruitment and retention nurse Charlotte Collings told Nursing Standard that overseas-trained nurses are worried about loss of earnings if they go on strike, despite the RCN offering £50 a day for those who join the picket line and are left out of pocket.

Warning of ‘undercurrent of fear’ over strike action

The RCN is currently balloting hundreds of thousands of members on strike

Overseas nurses should be reassured that they are safe and won’t face NMC action, despite the ‘undercurrent of fear’ over strike repercussions, says RCN regional board member

Picture: iStock

Some international nurses say they are not planning to vote on strike action because they cannot afford to lose a day’s pay, an RCN regional board member has suggested.

Recruitment and retention nurse Charlotte Collings told Nursing Standard that overseas-trained nurses are worried about loss of earnings if they go on strike, despite the RCN offering £50 a day for those who join the picket line and are left out of pocket.

Warning of ‘undercurrent of fear’ over strike action

The RCN is currently balloting hundreds of thousands of members on strike action over poor pay, and the ballot closes tomorrow, 2 November.

Ms Collings said an ‘undercurrent of fear’ in the international nurse community in the UK left many unaware that they can vote for strike action without taking part in resulting industrial action.

‘As a registered nurse the daily pay is obviously more than £50, so there is an element of fear,’ she said. ‘We want to spread the message that just because you vote to strike doesn’t mean you’ll be the one on the picket line. It could be that you’re the one choosing to work to allow someone else to go on the picket line, or it could fall on your day off and you will have the ability to show your support and not lose out on that salary.’

International nurses feel more vulnerable to strike repercussions

Ms Collings, who is on the RCN Eastern regional board, said there is stigma around industrial action in the international nurse community due to restrictions related to visa status, which often leave these staff without the same level of access to public resources as UK citizens.

‘Their cost of living is already significantly higher than a typical UK national,’ she said. 'They have to consider childcare costs, they don’t get child benefit and they don’t have the ability to get council homes or any sort of benefits for their families.’

These nurses are often the breadwinners, especially if their partner or spouse is in an unskilled position or unemployed, Ms Collings added.

She also said some senior overseas-trained nurses who have been in the country for a while still feel they should not be ‘unfavourable’ towards their employer for fear of repercussions, and that this message is being passed down to newly registered international nurses.

Nurses need to be reassured that they are safe to vote yes to strike action

She added that reassurance to say ‘you are safe, you are protected and you have the right to use your voice’ needs to come from people within the international nurse community.

There have been claims on social media that several employers across England have been ‘alluding’ to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code of conduct, seemingly in a bid to deter staff from striking.

This is despite the NMC confirming that nurses who take part in industrial action will not face the threat of fitness to practise action.


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