Pat Cullen ‘confident’ of agreeing pay deal as government enter talks with RCN

Nurses strike action called off next week as government agrees to enter 'intensive' talks

Nurses strike

The government will enter into ‘intensive’ talks with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) today, Wednesday, in the hope of ending the long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

Pat Cullen, General Secretary of the RCN, said she was ‘very pleased’ the government had agreed the process of intensive talks and that she is ‘confident’ they will be able to reach an agreement about a fair pay deal for nursing staff.

Strike action set to take place next week on the 1st to 3rd March will be paused whilst the talks take place.

Cullen heralded the immediate pay negotiations as a ‘hugely significant moment’.

A statement released by the UK government yesterday evening said the talks will focus on ‘pay, terms and conditions, and productivity enhancing reforms’.

The government stated: “Both sides are committed to finding a fair and reasonable settlement that recognises the vital role that nurses and nursing play in the National Health Service and the wider economic pressures facing the United Kingdom and the Prime Minister’s priority to halve inflation.”

The government has continually refused to budge from the recommendations of the Independent Pay Review Bodies, which suggested a 4% pay increase for nurses (a real-terms pay cut).

Their failure to negotiate so far has led to the biggest strike action in the history of the NHS.

The RCN has asked for a pay rise of 5% above RPI inflation whilst reiterating that there is room for negotiation and a willingness to ‘meet the government halfway’.

Pay of some experienced nurses has fallen in real terms by 20% since 2010, whilst there are 47,000 NHS nursing vacancies in England alone.

A sticking point in the negotiations for the RCN is regarding pay for 2022/23, which ministers have so far refused to budge on and offer an improved pay increase.

The talk agreement came after it was revealed ealier in the day that the government had discovered a public sector financial surplus of over £5 billion last month.

In Scotland, members are being consulted on a new NHS pay offer which amounts to an average 6.5% pay increase for all staff.

RCN has recommended their members accept the offer in Scotland.

Nurses in England will be hoping their strike action has paid off and the talks today will end with an acceptable offer.

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

(Photo credit: Channel 4 News / Youtube)

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

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