Midwives and maternity support worker members of the Royal College of Midwives have voted to take strike action in a dispute over pay in England.
This is the first time in its 133 year history that Royal College of Midwives members will have taken strike action. In the ballot midwives and MSWs also voted yes to action short of a strike. Industrial action will start on the morning of 13 October with a four-hour stoppage.
“There is still time to come back to the negotiating table”
In the vote 82.2% voted for strike action, and 94.6% voted for action short of a strike. The turnout was 49.4%.
The yes vote follows the rejection by employers of the Independent NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) recommendation of a1 per cent pay rise for NHS staff.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This is a resounding yes from our members. It could not send a clearer signal about the level of discontent on this issue to those denying them a very modest 1 per cent pay increase.
“Our members have suffered three years of pay restraint and face the prospect that their pay in 2016 will only be 1% higher than it was in 2010. The recommendations from all public sector pay review bodies have been followed except those for health workers. This is not acceptable. There is still time to come back to the negotiating table and to take a more reasonable position on the PRB recommendation.
“The RCM will be meeting with employers to discuss our action and to ensure that mothers and babies are not put at any risk. I want to reassure women expecting a baby that midwives will continue to look after them and that they will be safe.”
“We remain keen to meet with the unions to discuss how we can work together to make the NHS pay system fairer”
Department of Health
The Department of Health responded to the news saying: “We are disappointed that RCM is planning industrial action and has rejected our proposals to give NHS staff at least 1% additional pay this year and at least a further 1% next year.
“NHS staff are our greatest asset, and we’ve increased the NHS budget to pay for thousands more clinical staff since 2010, including more than 1,700 more midwives since May 2010. We want to protect these increases and cannot afford a pay rise on top of increments - which disproportionately reward the highest earners - without risking frontline jobs.
“We remain keen to meet with the unions to discuss how we can work together to make the NHS pay system fairer.”
Gill Bellord, director of employment relations and reward at the NHS Employers organisation, said: “It is regrettable that members of the Royal College of Midwives have agreed to take industrial action along with some of the other NHS trades unions.
“Employers will be concerned that this industrial action could worry pregnant women,” she said.
However, we welcome indications from the RCM that its members will continue to provide cover on maternity wards and work with local employers now to ensure that services can be maintained safely on the day of the proposed action,” she added.
Both Unite and Unison members have also voted yes to industrial action over pay:
- Unite members vote in favour of NHS pay strike
- Unison nurses vote in favour of strike action over NHS pay