Would you strike? Or are you vehemently opposed to taking any industrial action – whatever the circumstances?
The Royal College of Nursing pay ballot has gone live, and with just a few days left to make your voice heard, only 10% of nurses who are eligible to vote have made their feelings known.
The topic I am most asked to present on at conferences, talk about and generally explain is how nurses can get their voices heard.
It is a valid point – no one ever seems to dismiss the medics, and yet nurses are often marginalised or ignored by their colleagues, the media and senior executives.
“Any confidence nurses once had that things will change have been eroded”
It is, of course, therefore understandable if you feel a bit apathetic and that nothing is worth saying or doing. Any confidence nurses once had that things will change have been eroded by the government’s actions over the past few years – its refusal to put more than a 1% increase on NHS pay or comprehend the imminent dangers with the workforce shortage.
But I urge you not to give up.
I hope that every member will make their voice heard in the RCN pay poll.
This poll is asking around 270,000 RCN members if and what kind of industrial action they would take in response to the latest below-inflation pay award.
But so far, as mentioned above, only 10% of those eligible have answered the poll.
To me, this feels something of a shame because it is important for the profession and the college to understand the views of all members.
“Who is happy to just accept the 1% and move on without a fight?”
Who would be prepared to strike, who would feel this contravened their very reason for entering the profession? Who would work only their contracted hours, but not go out on the picket line and who would be prepared to refuse to take on the duties of a higher pay band? Who is happy to just accept the 1% and move on without a fight?
I know with the last general election only a couple of years back, then Brexit, the local elections and now another snap general election in June, some of you are getting voting fatigue, but the hidden danger of all this lies in apathy.
The issue of action over pay is an important one and now is an important time to be heard.
Often the RCN comes under fire for not being strong enough in taking action on behalf of its members, and this poll would be a good way of genuinely understanding how big the appetite is for action among the profession.
“How much more powerful would it be to find out the real facts and figures behind the issue?”
Those who strongly oppose striking might just say nothing, and think that their point has been made, but how much more powerful would it be to find out the real facts and figures behind the issue?
We can hypothesise that only a militant few are prepared to take action or that nurses are basically opposed to any kind of industrial demonstration? But wouldn’t it be better to actually know?
I hope that, whatever they feel, nurses do vote in this indicative poll. Because it does appear to be a genuine listening exercise, and I for one really want to hear what RCN members think. And, how much stronger would it be for the RCN to be able to tell the government that a hefty percentage of its members made their feelings known?
“It seems to me it is critical that you engage this with activity”
Of course the poll is just an appetiser, and if members did vote in favour, a formal ballot would then commence.
But without a strong response to gauge sensibly the feeling that is out there, that may never happen. So it seems to me it is critical that you engage this with activity as we stand on the brink of what could be a historic time for the college – and the nursing profession.
Voting closes at 11pm on Sunday 7 May. I am interested to hear what you decide to do.
More details can be found at https://www.rcn.org.uk/news-and-events/news/rcn-pay-poll-to-reveal-nurses-appetite-to-strike