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Nurses back industrial action to combat pay increment freezing


The Royal College of Nursing members have voted in favour of a ballot for industrial action if any trust attempts to impose a local increment freeze.

Following a debate at the RCN’s annual congress this morning, college members voted 97% in favour of a ballot urging the college’s council to ballot the membership for industrial action if an increment freeze is imposed.

An amendment was added to the motion for the call for a ballot to apply to “any proposal which challenges the nationally agreed pay agreement” - in reference to Agenda for Change.

On Tuesday health minister Anne Milton revisited the idea of job protection in exchange for a freeze of pay increments, but at a local trust level, in her speech to the conference. Her comments came despite a similar national offer from NHS Employers having been rejected by unions.

Ms Milton said in the future individual NHS organisations “will be able to decide, in consultation with staff, whether to opt into the national enabling framework”.

She said: “Opting in means no compulsory redundancies for Agenda for Change staff in bands 1 to 6, and as few as possible for all other staff, in return for a two-year freeze on incremental progression. It would mean 80% of Agenda for Change staff would be protected.”

RCN Scotland member Lisa Falconer, proposing the motion, said: “I was shocked when Anne Milton raised an issue that I thought we had made our voice clear on. This month our pay freeze started. We know that we are going to pay more towards our pension and work longer hours for less.”

RCN member from Suffolk Tom Bolger said: “We need to be clear: industrial action does not need to mean strike action.”

He said nurses could take action by “stopping completing their tick boxes” or working only the hours they are contracted to work.

He said RCN rules would ensure that any action would not harm patient care, but encouraged the Congress to use the threat of industrial action. “I’ve had enough, I won’t put up with it any more,” he said.

RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “Nurses are not going to do anything that damages patient care. This is a symptom of nurses feeling that the government may be listening but they are not hearing.

“The increment proposal was roundly rejected over Christmas and we were very surprised when the minister referred to this in her speech, there was a gasp throughout the hall.”

He added: “There is anger about their legally binding terms and conditions apparently going to be flagrantly disregarded. I would hope the Department of Health would rethink this. They created this not us. We wanted to send a very firm message. You do this and we really are saying we’ve had enough.”


Readers' comments (11)

  • Bring it on!!

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  • Mr Carter, are you listening? No ambiguity here. Your members (who pay your salary) are telling you loud and clear that there is no room for dilly-dallying about.

    This vote accurately represents what nurses are telling me 'on the shop floor'. Industrial action doesn't mean taking meal breaks that we don't get paid for (a strategy that will clearly fail as we have incredible loyalty to patients when we are there on the shop floor and will not walk away to get a meal) - it means withdrawing labour. If the uneleceted govt is reducing healthcare to a market driven business model in this country then it shouldn't come as a surprise when the workforce behaves within likewise within this model. Speak to the govt forcefully and in terms they understand - withdraw labour.

    It was interesting how Lansley apologised for 'not communicating properly'. In fact he has communicated excellently - he is right, your NHS will conform to his agenda and nothing you say will stop him. It's a propaganda exercise on his part: he's trying to sugar the bitter pill that he believes the NHS needs to swallow. To paraphrase - the lunatic is in charge of the asylum and no-one can be bothered to stop him. Please don't waste the opportunity that your members are clearly giving you.

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  • Don't bottle it Carter the time is fast approaching when you and the College need to stand up and be counted or make room for someone who will!

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  • I agree with Anon 11.37am...

    Industrial action can't just be about taking breaks when due and leaving work when you are supposed to...because that should be heappening anyway!!

    WE ALL NEED TO BE CLEAR that if it comes to it we will need to seriously consider srtiking! Harm our patients...yeah very good...the GPs patients when decisions are being made about funding the future NHS...the consultants patients when in hospital...and the nurses patients when considering the negative impact of industrial action...yeah very good indeed!

    The patients are not ours...they are patients...who come into contact with a varirty of healthcare workers. I am no angel who was called into nursing by some calling...I chose my career and have worked hard to graduate from 3 uni's all the way up to post graduate level. For the first time I earn a reasonable salary...under AFG and desoite the hard work, missung breaks, staying in to finish the job etc etc etc...they want to cut into our terms and conditions. WELL I SAY NO MORE! I WILL VOTE TO STRIKE and let them accept responsibility for "their" patients...

    We all need to think like this becasue any other way will be washed over...

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  • Out bloody standing!!!!!!!!!!

    I can't believe it, is the apathy of the Nursing profession FINALLY being washed away?

    This is an excellent opportunity, and we shouldn't waste it or water it down. We should not simply threaten to strike if this or that happens, we should strike now.

    We should DEMAND - without concession or surrender - a whole list of demands that have been plaguing our profession ...

    The resignation of Lansley.

    An immediate halt and a complete rethink of the current reforms of the NHS.

    Any future reforms to have Staff Nurses and Doctors from primary and secondary care on equal footing when it comes to running our NHS.

    An immediate halt in ANY and EVERY threat to our pay/increments/pensions/conditions, with the statement we will no longer allow anyone to treat our profession as second class citizens and they will never threaten us again with this bull.

    An immediate pay rise at all bands to bring us in line with other public service professionals and in recognition of the level of our skill and qualification.

    A legalised Nurse/Patient ratio, preferably 1 Staff Nurse and a couple of HCA's to every 6 patients, ensuring safe staffing levels and skill mix.

    I could go on for a long time like this, but I think I have made my point. We should use this as an opportunity to take control of our profession, say enough is enough, and in one fell swoop immediately improve all the problems that have been plaguing us for a long time.

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  • The only way to show we mean business is to STRIKE!!!!!

    Lets show them that we are a force to be reckoned with!!!

    Other countries have already striked and have been sucessful in increasing staff to patient ratio's!

    We are a PROFESSION of hard working, caring individuals, who are proud to be called nurses, if we can`t stand up for ourselves to improve/maintain our working conditions - do it for the patients because ultimately they will suffer if we don`t! There isn't a profession on the planet that would put up with what the government expects from those working within the NHS.

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  • the RCN are full of shit, Mike i know you don't love them either.....they remind me alot of the conservative government we have...people have been sayng for well over twelve months that industrial action is needed for real reform and patient safety, only at the brink of thousands walking away from the rcn from their bend over attitude to everything lansley has chucked do they actually listen to their members...alot like a tory government who know they havent listened to its society as well and just before the shit hits the fan the make out that we are all on the same side and pause reforms no one listen. WE HAVE BEEN TALKING FOR BLOODY AGES AND ITS SIMPLE....EMPLOY THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF NURSES TO LOOK AFTER THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF PATIENTS!!!!!!!! i love how politicians say there are 1000's more nurses in 2011 as i dont remember the pressures of staffing when i started in 1998 and seriosuly most other people talk of better staffing years ago as well, where do these statistics come from

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  • Anonymous | 15-Apr-2011 0:49 am you are right, there is certainly no love lost between the RCN and I, and I agree with you that they are often as full of the proverbial as any politician. However, I am also acutely aware that if our profession is going to organise itself enough to strike and fight back, then we NEED the RCN and UNISON, we need their ability to be a figurehead and bring us together, quite simply because we have nothing else. We just need to make sure that the vacuous, spineless idiots within our unions are actually shouting what we - their members - want them to shout.

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  • It is up to the members if this goes to a vote. If the RCN ask members to vote on strike action and YOU don't vote or reject its YOUR fault not the RCN's.

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  • anything happening?

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