The Royal College of Nursing will recommend strike action to its members in a forthcoming ballot. The postal ballot will ask if Nurses are prepared to take strike action which will see a complete withdrawal of labour. The ballot will open on the 15th September for four weeks. If there is a majority in favour of striking, then this will be the first strike in England or Wales by RCN Members, although they have taken strike action in Northern Ireland in 2019. The RCN has also increased its strike fund to £50 million which will help support nurses, should the vote be in favour of strikes.
The Royal College of Nurses wants a pay rise of 5% above inflation as measured by the Retail Prices Index (11.8%), so they are asking for 16.8% in settlement. Even if they get this, inflation is set to rise even further after the 80% rise in energy prices kicks in this October, followed by a further 20% increase in January 2023. The Government, earlier this year passed legislation that allowed agency workers to stand in for striking workers, so nurses may feel they can go on strike without patients suffering unduly. It’s uncertain however if there are enough agency workers to make a difference.
Pat Cullen, RCN general secretary, said: “Nursing staff will stop at nothing to protect their patients. Staff shortages are putting patient safety at risk and the Government’s failure to listen has left us with no choice but to advocate for strike action. A lifetime of service must never mean a lifetime of poverty. Ministers’ refusal to recognise the skill and responsibility of the job is pushing people out of the profession. The next prime minister must change course urgently.”