The Royal College of Nursing has said it will move towards balloting members on industrial action if the 1% cap on NHS pay rises is not lifted in the November budget.
The decision to continue the campaign for fair nursing pay was made by the RCN’s council on Wednesday. It condemned what it described as the government’s “vague” signals that there would be increased wage rises from next year.
According to the college, the Treasury has now written to the NHS pay review body setting out its remit for making recommendations on pay.
It has reiterated that the review body can apply greater “flexibility” in its approach but has failed to explicitly mention scrapping the cap, claimed the RCN.
Meanwhile, the RCN said it was asking its members to lobby their MP on the issue of pay before the chancellor’s budget speech on 22 November.
The college had representatives at the Labour Party Conference and would be looking to influence senior politicians at the Conservative Party Conference next week, it said.
The RCN, alongside 13 other unions, has demanded to see wage increase by 3.9% to match inflation, plus an additional £800 consolidated lump sum, for all staff to make up for the years of lost pay.
The college said it would be contacting its members soon about ways they could prepare for any future ballot on industrial action.
Earlier this year, it asked members about their willingness to take industrial action over pay in an indicative poll held ahead of RCN congress.
According to the results of the three-week consultation, 78% of RCN members were prepared to strike over the government’s ongoing policy of NHS pay restraint.
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In addition, 91% of RCN members said they would take part in some form of industrial action, such as working to rule or protesting, and 97% said they rejected the pay cap.
The online poll took place between 13 April and 7 May with turnout at around 19%. While around 52,000 RCN members took part in the indicative survey, it fell short of the number necessary to spark a formal ballot on taking industrial action under its rules.
The college subsequently organised a campaign over the summer, which it dubbed “scrap the cap” and that culminated in a rally in Westminster earlier this month.