By Yuri Prasad
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2784

After ballot results, keep fighting over NHS pay

Unions should have built on the anger earlier
Issue 2784
20 RCN members and others with placards calling for better NHS pay. All wearing masks.

RCN members are angry over pay (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Nurses in the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have voted to say they are willing to strike and take action short of strike over pay.

The indicative ballot results, released last week, showed that 54 percent of members voting are prepared to walk out, while 89 percent back other forms of industrial action.

But the turnout in the ballot was low, with just 23 percent of eligible members voting in England, and 29 percent in Wales.

The interim chair of RCN council Carol Popplestone said, “Nursing staff do not consider industrial action lightly, but they will consider it if it means standing up for patients and their profession.”

The next moves will be decided by the RCN trade union committee.

The low turnout will disappoint many union activists as it doesn’t reflect the anger on the wards.

The RCN leadership have wasted that feeling by following one indicative ballot with another, instead of harnessing the mood when the Pay Review Body reported earlier this year.

The long delay has sapped the energy of activists.

The union should now move to a formal industrial action ballot and throw absolutely everything into winning it with a good turnout.

And activists have to fight for a united fight across the health unions.

  • Strikes at Berkshire hospitals have been called off after the GMB union declared a “massive victory”. Cleaners, porters and caterers were furious after bosses forced changes to the employment contracts that would have broken from NHS terms and conditions.

They voted by 100 percent to strike.

But before taking action, NHS Property Services crumbled and agreed to protect the workers’ original NHS contracts, banding and pay.

  • Dangerous plans to force health workers in Nottingham to perform more medical procedures without additional staff have been dropped after union members threatened strikes.

Bosses told staff at Nottingham University Hospital’s urology department that they would have to cover another health centre every day, and perform new duties.

One health worker told the Nottingham Post that the plan was dangerous.

“This is when accidents happen and when mistakes are made,” they said. “We have been set up to fail.”

The Unison union members voted by 96 percent in favour of strikes.

As a result bosses have been forced to withdraw the plans and send all the staff a letter of apology.

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