Nurses vote to stage strikes across the UK for the first time in their history

“Anger has become action – our members are saying enough is enough."

NHS strike

NHS nurses across the country have voted for strike action for the first time in their history, in a dispute over pay.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced that ‘members at the majority of NHS employers across the UK have voted to take strike action in their fight for fair pay and safe staffing’. The industrial action is expected to take place before Christmas and could last until next May.

While nurses in every service in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted for action, in Wales all but one health board did. In England the turnout was too low in nearly half of NHS trusts for strike action to take place.

RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said: “Anger has become action – our members are saying enough is enough. The voice of nursing in the UK is strong and I will make sure it is heard. Our members will no longer tolerate a financial knife-edge at home and a raw deal at work.

“Ministers must look in the mirror and ask how long they will put nursing staff through this. While we plan our strike action, next week’s budget is the UK government’s opportunity to signal a new direction with serious investment. Across the country, politicians have the power to stop this now and at any point. 

“This action will be as much for patients as it is for nurses. Standards are falling too low and we have strong public backing for our campaign to raise them. This winter, we are asking the public to show nursing staff you are with us.”

It’s the first time in its 106-year history of the RCN that members are taking UK-wide action.

The strike comes after the government in England and Wales gave NHS staff an average of 4.75% rise this year, despite inflation running at over 12%. The RCN, which represents about two-thirds of nurses in the NHS, has asked for 5% above the RPI rate of inflation, which stands at over 12%.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

Left Foot Forward’s trade union reporting is supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust

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(Picture credit: Chris Marchant: Creative Commons)

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