• 29 October 2021
  • 4 min read

Should Nurses Take Industrial Action To Force A Higher Pay Offer?

  • Matt Farrah
    CEO & Co-Founder
    • Richard Gill
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Mat Martin
    • Gary Riding
  • 4
  • 505
Should Nurses Take Industrial Action To Force A Higher Pay Offer?

The health union Unison is set to ballot its members in England and Wales regarding possible industrial action after an ‘overwhelming majority’ voted against accepting the offered 3% NHS pay deal.

80% of Unison members who voted were opposed to the 3% pay offer for NHS nurses employed on Agenda for Change (AfC) contracts.

This result delivered a “strong message to ministers” for them to act for the protection of the NHS, said a Unison spokesperson.

The union stated that as a result of that initial consultation, an indicative ballot would now be conducted between 4th and 30th November to gauge possible support amongst health members for industrial action to attempt to change the government’s decision.

Would you support the decision of nurses if they did vote to strike over pay? Comment 💬 Like ❤️ Reply 🙂 below.

A week earlier, a sizable majority of RCN members in England and Wales had also opposed the 3% pay deal, branding it as ‘unacceptable’.

A large proportion of voting members participated in what was a consultative ballot. 91.7% of those in England who voted said they thought the pay award unacceptable, with 8.3% saying they would accept it.

In Wales, 93.9% of voters denounced the pay award as unacceptable, with only 6.1% saying they thought it was satisfactory.

In England, 25.4% of those eligible cast their vote. In Wales the turnout was 29.3%.

The turnout in England had increased by a third when compared to the NHS pay consultation in 2018. It was the highest ever turnout for an RCN consultative ballot.

Do you think that the Government should re-engage with the pay offer process on the back of these results?

And if so, do you think the RCN should adjust its demand for a 12.5% pay increase to a lower figure?*

*(We changed the word in this sentence to "lower" from "unrealistic". As the comment by Garry - see below - highlighted, this was misinterpreted as suggesting WE here at Nurses.co.uk feel 12.5% is unrealistic.)

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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Patricia Marquis, RCN Director for England, said nursing staff were "exhausted and demoralised at being taken for granted by government and many say they are now considering leaving".

“With inflation, the current pay award leaves experienced staff with a real-terms pay cut. And now they face the prospect of their wages being hit further by the increase in national insurance," she added.

How much public sympathy do you think there is for large pay rises for nurses, particularly given the increased taxes everyone will be paying towards the NHS from next year, with no guarantee this extra funding will result in improved outcomes?

Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive, in response to the vote, implored ministers to pay nursing staff fairly and take steps to “avoid a further escalation of this situation”.

She said: “Just a week after Boris Johnson talked about ‘good wages’ for nursing staff, our members are delivering a clear verdict on his NHS pay award”.

Do you think that winter demands on the NHS, both from the lockdown-induced patient backlog and the likely bad flu season will increase the pressure on the Government and nursing unions to reach a mutually acceptable compromise?

A deal that gave most NHS nurses an increase of 4% was imposed in Scotland. Members of the RCN in Scotland voted to decline this pay award however and consequently remain in dispute with both the Scottish Government and NHS employers. They are also already voting in an indicative ballot on what, if any, industrial action to take over pay.

Graham Revie, Chair of the RCN Trade Union Committee, said: “Our members were very clear in telling the Scottish government that the NHS pay award was completely unacceptable – it fails the test of fairness and it fails to address the current crisis by not taking action to safely staff our wards and clinics".

“With the vote open across Scotland, the power is once again in the hands of nursing staff. I urge as many members as possible to speak up and tell us whether they believe industrial action is needed to turn things around for our patients” he went on.

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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In Wales, the RCN is locked in a formal dispute with the Welsh government over its 3% pay award for NHS nursing staff. Consultative balloting for industrial action may soon follow if the government refuses to negotiate an increase to the pay award, according to the RCN.

RCN Wales Director Helen Whyley said: “Safe and effective care for patients must be a priority for the Welsh government. Despite the First Minister announcing £991m of extra funding available for health care this year, none of it has been earmarked for nurses’ pay".

"Patients are waiting for treatment and care and nursing staff are needed to deliver that. There are over 1,700 vacancies for registered nurses in NHS Wales and the Welsh government needs to address this” she added.

In Northern Ireland meanwhile, nurses appear to be in line for a 3% pay increase, but pending a budget review, formal confirmation is not expected until next month at the earliest.

Do you think that if nurses in England and Wales vote to strike over pay, that Scottish and Northern Irish nurses would follow suit?

And if so, do you think such strikes would be justified, or should NHS managers across the four nations accept the pay offer(s) and instead concentrate on increasing the proportion of clinical staff employed from within existing budgets?

Also, with the Chancellor set to announce in his budget that he is ending the public sector pay freeze and that there will be a full NHS pay review in 2022, which will result in another pay rise for nurses, does industrial action now run the risk of being counter-productive?

Please let us know what you think in the comments, and Like the article if you found it interesting.

Thanks.

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    CEO & Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

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  • Matt Farrah
    CEO & Co-Founder

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    CEO & Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

  • 4 Comments
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    • Gary Riding one month ago
      Gary Riding
    • Gary Riding
      one month ago

      I have been in the profession for over 20 years and am fed up with Nurses being treated as an ... read more

    • Garry Dring one month ago
      Garry Dring
    • Garry Dring
      one month ago

      If you're leaving it as it is, with "lower" in the text, you're not in support of nursing and the ... read more

      • I think we'll have to beg to differ there Garry. I think I've tried to explain why we write these articles - to inspire debate. Instead of welcoming that opportunity, you are choosing to discuss the u... read more

        I think we'll have to beg to differ there Garry. I think I've tried to explain why we write these articles - to inspire debate. Instead of welcoming that opportunity, you are choosing to discuss the use of one word and I no longer really understand what it is you're trying to do? It seems you're trying to suggest that I personally do not support UK nurses? If that is the case, then I'm not sure what more I can do to change your mind? My support of the nursing sector is self-evident through the fact that we're having this discussion on a site that I've dedicated 13 years of my life to building. I have worked with passion and sweat and wonderful colleagues who all also care about giving nurses a voice and I hope most of our audience appreciate that.
        read less

        Replied by: Matt Farrah
    • Garry Dring one month ago
      Garry Dring
    • Garry Dring
      one month ago

      Matt, I appreciate your amendment. You of course understand how things are lifted out of context, and in the current, ... read more

      • I'll take your point AND leave it as it is though, I think. Happy we've found an understanding. Not easy through typing, to get our messages across. I'm not a journalist and the pressures of working i... read more

        I'll take your point AND leave it as it is though, I think. Happy we've found an understanding. Not easy through typing, to get our messages across. I'm not a journalist and the pressures of working in a small business mean I don't have a long time to write, proof and publish! Thanks for bearing with me on this Garry and reading my long replies!
        read less

        Replied by: Matt Farrah
    • Garry Dring one month ago
      Garry Dring
    • Garry Dring
      one month ago

      Matt Farah, I'm shocked to read your take on this situation! You're writing for a nursing resource, yet bashing nurses ... read more

      • It's OK Garry, you can stop being shocked and appalled. This is not an "opinion piece" but(as hopefully the title makes clear)an article that lays out the positions held by various bodies out there an... read more

        It's OK Garry, you can stop being shocked and appalled. This is not an "opinion piece" but(as hopefully the title makes clear)an article that lays out the positions held by various bodies out there and seeks YOUR opinion. I do accept that many sites(including social platforms)look to win audience and engagement by saying inflammatory things. But you will know by now that this is not how we do things here at .Instead, as is clear by the large number of nurses and care professionals who contribute, is a space where we encourage others to share their reasonable, and intelligent perspectives based on actual lived experience. We're with you Garry, not against you!
        read less

        Replied by: Matt Farrah

        Matt, your article suggests that 12.5% isn't realistic. That's offensive. It is realistic. It is affordable. It's been fully costed. It's actually a lot less than we deserve, when you consider our rea... read more

        Matt, your article suggests that 12.5% isn't realistic. That's offensive. It is realistic. It is affordable. It's been fully costed. It's actually a lot less than we deserve, when you consider our real terms 20% pay cut over the last 10 years.
        read less

        Replied by: Garry Dring

        In order to inspire debate it's sometimes useful to position the question from the perspective of the antagonist. But I accept in this instance, out of context, it sounds like I'm saying "you need to ... read more

        In order to inspire debate it's sometimes useful to position the question from the perspective of the antagonist. But I accept in this instance, out of context, it sounds like I'm saying "you need to be realistic". I'm sorry to have confused you and, even worse, we're spending time having a conversation about semantics instead of a conversation about whether or not YOU think nurses deserve a pay rise of more than 3% and, if so, how much. THAT was the intention here. As you can probably tell, the general sweep of the piece and indeed the whole mission of the website(to wich I've dedicated 13 years of my life)is to promote nursing, and give nurses a platform to share their views.
        read less

        Replied by: Matt Farrah

        I've amended the word now Garry - to "lower". Hopefully my meaning is clearer now.

        Replied by: Matt Farrah
      • Show all replies