Editorial

Threat of industrial action may force a rethink over pay

We are approaching a decade of unprecedented pay restraint, but surely the time has come for a change in policy, writes editor Graham Scott
Graham Scott

Would you take industrial action over pay? Thats one of the questions likely to feature in a consultation by the RCN of its 435,000 members over the coming weeks.

The question is timely because the governments intransigence on the issue of nurse pay shows no sign of abating. We are approaching a decade of unprecedented pay restraint that nurses have accepted with remarkably good grace, but surely the time has come for a change in policy.

The supposedly independent pay review body (RB) has had both hands tied to the point that its very existence is questionable. Its members are known to be unhappy that their role has become so marginalised.

A better deal

Prices are rising again, with the latest inflation figures showing the cost of living went up by 3.2% over the past year. Set in this context, the pay rise of 1%

Would you take industrial action over pay? That’s one of the questions likely to feature in a consultation by the RCN of its 435,000 members over the coming weeks.

The question is timely because the government’s intransigence on the issue of nurse pay shows no sign of abating. We are approaching a decade of unprecedented pay restraint that nurses have accepted with remarkably good grace, but surely the time has come for a change in policy.

The supposedly independent pay review body (RB) has had both hands tied to the point that its very existence is questionable. Its members are known to be unhappy that their role has become so marginalised.

A better deal

Prices are rising again, with the latest inflation figures showing the cost of living went up by 3.2% over the past year. Set in this context, the pay rise of 1% announced last month is a pay cut in real terms.

Nurses will never walk out on patients, but there is a whole host of other ways in which they might take action that forces ministers into a rethink. In any case, the mere threat of nurses taking on the UK’s four governments may well be enough to bring about a better deal.

If nothing else were achieved, allowing the RB to issue its next annual report without being told the outcome in advance would be a major step forward.

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