Unions prepare to consult nurses on ‘scandalously low’ 3% pay rise

RCN, Unison and Unite will canvass members’ views on next steps in pay negotiations

RCN, Unison and Unite will canvass members’ views on next steps in pay negotiations

Nurse holding a poster during a pay protest in London
The RCN has called for a 12.5% pay rise Picture: Alamy

Nurses in England and Wales will be asked to have their say on the ‘scandalously low’ 3% pay rise in coming weeks, unions say.

The Westminster and Welsh governments have come under fire from unions and front-line staff following the announcement of the 2021 award for Agenda for Change staff, which falls far short of the 12.5% the RCN demanded.

Industrial action a last resort – but ‘not off the table’

The college will hold a ‘consultative ballot’ in the next month to gauge members’ views on whether they feel the much-delayed offer is acceptable or not.

Results of this consultation will direct the college's next steps, including potentially asking members to take part in an indicative ballot to gauge appetite for industrial action.

The RCN set up a £35 million strike fund in response to the government’s 1% pay rise suggestion in March, but trade union committee chair Graham Revie stressed that industrial action would be a last resort.

‘We will exhaust all avenues before any consideration of industrial action,’ he told Nursing Standard. ‘But it is not off the table.’

Unison and Unite also consulting members

Ministers accepted in full the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body for the 2021-22 pay round, and said the rise would be backdated to April.

In May, it was announced that a 4% pay rise for most nurses in Scotland would go ahead, despite the offer being rejected by RCN members. No announcement on pay has yet been made in Northern Ireland.

Unison and Unite said they would also be consulting members on next steps.

Unison head of health and chair of the joint health unions Sara Gorton said: ‘As staff ready themselves to deal with another wave of COVID-19, the government must speak up and show it values what they’ve done. Not just during the pandemic but in tackling the mammoth backlog too.’

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