CareCare StaffNewsNHSNurses

RCN Scotland to Ballot NHS Members on Industrial Strike Action

Royal College of Nursing members working in NHS Scotland are to be balloted on industrial strike action. The move comes after members voted overwhelmingly to reject the Scottish Government’s pay offer.

Over 90% said the offer of 5% for the majority of staff working in the NHS on Agenda for Change terms and conditions wasn’t good enough. The number of members voting on the pay offer more than doubled compared to a similar ballot last year.

The ballot also asked members to indicate their willingness to take part in industrial action with the majority voting in favour of taking strike action.

This is an unprecedented demonstration of the strength of feeling amongst nursing staff right now and has left the College no option but to begin preparations for a statutory ballot on industrial strike action.

Each of the NHS health trade unions stated their position on the offer today (Friday 12 August) at the Scottish Terms and Conditions Committee (STAC), the body for collective pay bargaining for the NHS in Scotland. The Scottish government has been informed of RCN members overwhelming rejection of the offer. The College has called for a fully funded pay rise for nursing staff of 5% above inflation.

An industrial strike ballot must be carried out by post and there are numerous statutory requirements that must be complied with, including a 50% turnout requirement. In the recent ballot on the pay offer this turnout threshold was exceeded across all of Scotland’s regional and special health boards. Members working for the NHS in Scotland will join those in England and Wales being asked to vote in a statutory strike ballot opening on 15 September.

If members support strike action, it will be the first ever strike by RCN members in Scotland. The College went on strike for the first time in its history in Northern Ireland in 2019.

Julie Lamberth, Chair, RCN Scotland Board said:

“Members’ response to the Scottish government’s pay offer is unprecedented. We are angry and frustrated that the Scottish government has yet again failed to address Scotland’s nursing workforce crisis and has proposed yet another real terms pay cut for our members.

“We are clear that this offer doesn’t recognise the skill and responsibility of the job we do. It does nothing to protect patient safety by addressing the chronic levels of staff shortages or help nursing staff cope with the cost-of-living crisis. It won’t help recruit to nursing now, at a time when there are over 6,000 unfilled jobs, nor keep much-needed experienced nurses and nursing support workers in nursing.

“The Scottish government has relied on the good will of nursing staff for too long.

“Enough is enough. In all my years in nursing I have never known such strength of determination amongst nursing staff. We will be urging members to support strike action and I encourage every eligible member to use their vote when the time comes.”

Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland Interim Director, added:
“The Scottish government must do much better to demonstrate they value our nursing workforce and address the years of underinvestment.

“The Cabinet Secretary and his colleagues have the power to do the right thing. To acknowledge the impact the nursing workforce crisis is having on patient safety and to recognise the contribution of registered nurses and nursing support workers.

“Industrial strike action is always a last resort. The Scottish government has the opportunity to act now, to come back to the table with a substantially improved offer. Our members have told us this needs to be meaningful and recognise the safety critical role of our profession to ensure Scotland can retain and recruit the nursing workforce it needs.”