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Carter: Strikes may have hampered unions' pension campaign


Unions could have gained more concessions from the government on pension reform had they not gone on strike, Peter Carter has told Nursing Times.

“The analogy I’ve used is that a loaded gun is often more of a threat than a fired gun. We could have still had that in reserve,” the Royal College of Nursing’s chief executive and general secretary said.  “Who knows - with the threat of industrial action, as opposed to what happened, we might have got more.”

Mr Carter insisted the RCN’s decision not to strike alongside other unions on 30 November was “the right thing to do”. He said the main concessions in areas such as protection for those in the last 10 years of their careers were won before that day.

He declined to reveal to Nursing Times what he would say at today’s meeting of the RCN ruling council which will give the union’s official response to the government’s offer.

However, he added: “If I felt it was worth pushing on this and keep negotiations going I would. However, we could push as much as we’d like and we’re not going to get any further. That’s a difficult message for our members but I’ve got to be realistic and to be honest with them.”

Mr Carter said he did not believe striking was a “realistic option for RCN members”, although some may have favoured industrial action.

“To be really effective you have thousands of people walk off the job. That would render patient care unsafe which RCN members are not prepared to do.”

Mr Carter had advice for the government’s negotiating team. He accused chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander of disclosing details of negotiations to the media. “He should have kept his own counsel and not have been speaking in the way that he did. I think [Cabinet Office minister] Francis Maude has shown himself to be a very skilled negotiator but I think with Danny Alexander we saw some inexperience there.”


Readers' comments (6)

  • The man is less use than a chocolate teapot....
    With him in charge there is no loaded gun, more of a water pistol.

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  • Could NT please get the facts right? Clearly the quotes attributed to Dr C are from a gvt mouthpiece, not with the leader of the largest health union in the country.

    Could NT please redress the balnce with an interview with Dr C to show us how the union is rather than the roll-over-and-accept-what-you-are-told attitude above.

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  • Is it clearly goverment mouthpiece quotes? There is little to prove that.
    Yes a "roll-over-and-accept-what-you-are-told attitude" can be attributed to the largest health union in the country. Otherwise we wouldn't be in the state we are in now

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  • Not much point in having a loaded gun Mr.Carter if you never take it out of it`s holster.

    Surely it should be down to the members of the RCN to decide if you should should "push" further or not, and whether or not they wish to take industrial action.

    Is your pension being effected Mr. Carter, and if so, how?

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  • Is it clearly goverment mouthpiece quotes? There is little to prove that.

    It was written tongue in cheek and not without incredulity!

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  • Why does he asssume a Nursing strike would be all nurses walking off the job and leaving patients without care. Industrial action would be given with a timely warning allowing management to make alternative arrangements. Once a strike is declared and a date set, it then becomes managers responsibility to ensure coverage of wards, by cancelling clinics and non elective surgeries etc. Emergency care would still be covered. I,m sick of being blackmailed with 'oh patients will suffer' thats just smoke and mirrors.
    once I declare my right to take action it becomes a management problem

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