The Royal College of Nursing congress will vote on Thursday on an emergency motion to ballot members for industrial action in the event of any imposition of an incremental pay freeze.
The motion, proposed by RCN member Lisa Faulkner, came in response public health minister Anne Milton’s speech to congress this morning.
The minister, a former district nurse and RCN steward, told delegates that “individual NHS organisations will be able to decide in consultation with staff” whether to opt into the “national enabling framework”.
The deal, which was rejected nationally by the RCN and other unions earlier this year, would mean nurses accepting a two-year freeze of their pay increment increases – on top of the existing freeze on basic pay – in return for a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies for Agenda for Change staff in bands 1 to 6.
Ms Milton told RCN congress: “I want each different area to make up their own minds about whether or not they want to do that – but the option is there to take up if you want.”
The motion tabled in response states: “Following the minister offering job protection for some staff in return for a freeze in increments, congress urges [the RCN] council to ballot the membership for industrial action in the event of any imposition of any incremental pay freeze.”
Ms Milton’s speech also prompted congress to table a separate motion of “no confidence” in health secretary Andrew Lansley.
The motion read: “In the light of Anne Milton’s congress address, that the RCN congress has no confidence in [health secretary] Andrew Lansley’s management of this coalition government’s NHS reforms.”
Congress is expected to debate and vote on the motions tomorrow. It will decide later this afternoon whether to schedule the votes before or after Mr Lansley’s visit to the conference tomorrow.
He is due to speak to a select group of nurses as part of the government’s health bill “listening exercise”.