UK nurses to vote in first-ever NCR strike ballot over pay | Feeding with milk
Hundreds of thousands of nurses across the UK are due to vote to go on strike in a move that risks disrupting the NHS this winter.
For the first time in its 106-year history, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is voting 300,000 of its members against the strike and recommending that they vote in favour.
The poll protests the government’s decision in July to give most NHS workers a 5% pay rise, which ministers say will lead to frontline staff receiving a pay rise of at least minus £1,400. Nurses are expected to get a 5% raise above inflation – which is currently at 10.1% – according to the NCR.
“This is a once-in-a-generation chance to improve your pay and tackle staff shortages that put patients at risk,” said Pat Cullen, union general secretary and chief executive, in a message to members who must receive a ballot. . “Governments have repeatedly neglected the NHS and the value of nursing. We can change that if we say “enough is enough” together.
“Record numbers feel no alternative but to quit smoking and patients are paying a heavy price. We are doing it for them too.
The Guardian reported last week that hospital bosses in England had discovered some nurses were skipping meals to feed and clothe their children instead.
The RCN ballot will close on November 2. Other groups of NHS workers, including junior doctors and physiotherapists, are also threatening to go on strike for a bigger pay rise.
The MRC must overcome similar but different legal hurdles in the four home countries before it can take industrial action. For example, at least 50% of all elected members in England and Scotland must vote, and 40% of them approve a strike, before any legal walkout can begin.
Recent research from the Health Foundation think tank found that the average base income of NHS nurses fell by 5% in real terms between 2011 and 2021, a period that included most of a seven-month salary cap. years in the public sector.
A London nurse, who is also an RCN campaigner, said she would vote for the strike, as almost all of her colleagues would, because soaring inflation means the 5% offer is a cut of wages in real terms. “The anger is palpable. Hospital trusts are setting up food banks for nurses who cannot afford to feed themselves and their children,” she said. “The same nurses that people stood at their doorsteps and clapped in appreciation for, during the pandemic.
“For years, nurses waited and negotiated in hopes of being paid at least a living wage. In vain, as the government’s latest wage insult shows. The fact is that since the onset of austerity nurses have taken a 15% pay cut.”
She added: “As a nurse I could never afford a mortgage and now I’m starting to worry about whether I’ll be able to pay my rent in London and have to move into a hostel.”
Nurses are overworked and patient safety is at risk, she added.
“The NHS is imploding before our eyes and with a nursing shortage of 47,000 [in England], nurses are forced to do the work of two or three. Obviously, we cannot safely provide care from this position.
Ethically and professionally, nurses must refuse to associate themselves with a negligent system, which is a betrayal of our professional duty to maintain patient safety.