Nurses across the UK say ‘enough is enough’ as they begin vote on strike action over pay
The RCN is urging its 300,000 members to "make your mark on history" by voting for strike action.
Hundreds of thousands of NHS nurses nationwide have now begun casting their votes on whether to strike over pay.
This is the first ever UK-wide ballot by the history of the nursing industry’s largest union.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has this week asked 300,000 nurses if they want to begin a campaign for industrial action for the first time in its 106-year history – with the union urging its members to vote in favour of striking, and the union’s general secretary calling this a “once-in-a-generation chance” to make real change.
The vote comes amid warnings that nurses are leaving the profession in record numbers, and are unhappy with working conditions, staff shortages, and ultimately, pay.
The RCN said new analysis by London Economics found that pay for nurses has declined at twice the rate of the private sector in the last decade.
Their real-terms earnings are said to have fallen by 6%.
The RCN wants nurses to be given a pay rise in line with the rate of inflation – which is currently at a 40-year record high of 10.1%.
“Across the board, it’s unacceptable,” the RCN said on the opening of the ballot.
“We’re campaigning for a pay rise of 5% above inflation to overcome a decade of real-terms pay cuts, support nursing staff through the cost-of-living crisis, and recognise their safety critical skills [as] only by paying nursing staff fairly will we be able to retain existing and recruit new nursing staff to the safety critical roles they do.”
The union is urging its members, including those across Greater Manchester, to “make your mark on history” by voting for strike action.
RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said the nation’s nurses are “understaffed, undervalued, and underpaid”.
Calling on members to cast their votes, Ms Cullen said: “For years, our profession has been pushed to the edge, and now patient safety is paying the price.
“We can’t stand by and watch our colleagues and patients suffer anymore.
“Though strike action is a last resort, it is a powerful tool for change, and we must demand that change. Enough is enough.
“I urge you to vote ‘yes’ in this ballot.”
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She continued: “This is a once in a generation chance to improve your pay and combat the staff shortages that put patients at risk. Governments have repeatedly neglected the NHS and the value of nursing. We can change this if together we say ‘enough is enough’.
“Record numbers are feeling no alternative but to quit and patients pay a heavy price. We are doing this for them too. I have spoken with hundreds of you directly in recent weeks – it’s clear we need urgent change.
“Nursing is the best job in the world. Protect it with your vote.”
Featured Image – UKHSA