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Nurses 'pushed' into staging pay protests, say RCN members

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Nurses have been “pushed” into staging protests over the 1% annual cap on pay rises due to years of the government failing to listen to their concerns about the difficulties staff are facing, the profession said today.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing, which launched its “summer of protest” activities today, also highlighted a recent union poll which found 91% of the 52,000 taking part would be in favour of industrial action.

“We’ve come here to make this statement to the government that retaining a 1% pay cap over the number of years since 2010 is not sustainable”

Bernell Bussue

They said this should serve as a warning to the government that nurses would be prepared to go on strike if an official ballot went ahead.

Nurses said their indication that they would go on strike was not a decision that had been taken by the profession lightly.

At a demonstration outside the Department of Health’s offices in London today, around 50 nurses gathered to call on the government to remove its 1% cap for NHS nurses.

“We’ve come here to make this statement to the government that retaining a 1% pay cap over the number of years since 2010 is not sustainable….We definitely think the government is not listening,” said RCN regional director for London Bernell Bussue.

“I’ve had enough of the government not listening to us…For seven years we’ve been saying how hard it is and have had no response”

 Danielle Tiplady

“Nurses feel they have been pushed into a positon of having to do something about it – that came out in the RCN’s poll of nurses earlier this year of 52,000 members who said they were unhappy with their pay,” he told Nursing Times.

Danielle Tiplady, a staff nurse in London who was also a prominent campaigner during the demonstrations against the government’s removal of student nurse bursaries, was at today’s protest.

“I’ve had enough of the government not listening to us. We have outlined how hard it is for us – using foodbanks, taking out pay day loans and seeing colleagues worked to the absolute bone , feeling tired and exhausted.

“For seven years we’ve been saying how hard it is and have had no response from the government. It’s time nurses were given a fair deal,” she told Nursing Times.

”Nurses cannot give the quality of care that they want to give because there aren’t enough of them due to them leaving the service”

Josie Irwin

“We have been pushed into a corner and don’t have any real options. It its serious that we would say we would take strike action,” she added.

Josie Irwin, head of employment relations at the RCN, told the crowd of nurses at today’s protest that the profession “has had enough” of not being given a fair pay rise that kept up with inflation.

cropped bernell bussue pay protest

cropped bernell bussue pay protest

Bernell Bussue

“Nurses cannot give the quality of care that they want to give because there aren’t enough of them due to them leaving the service in droves – to work in supermarkets and other places. Because they simply cannot afford to meet the cost of living,” she said.

Protests were planned for 30 locations across the UK today, which also included a rally at the Scottish Parliament.

Ahead of the events, RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies said nurses were taking an “unprecedented stand” today, while warning a ballot over strike action would go ahead if the cap remained in place.

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