As governors of the RCN in the South East we have been dismayed by recent actions on the island.
Negotiation, by its very definition, is a dialogue between parties to reach a beneficial outcome. The talks have been so one sided and the RCN’s concerns just dismissed so readily that we really don’t consider negotiation has happened. This new offer kicks the idea of modernising the workforce way down the line. If the States were serious about future proofing the nursing profession these discussions (implementing the finds of the Royles review) would have already started. They haven’t.
Nurses don’t even have to strike to cause chaos. They just need to work their contracted hours and take the breaks they are entitled to – this action alone, as demonstrated this week in Northern Ireland, can cripple a workplace because the system is so over reliant on the goodwill of nurses. The no striking in Guernsey just shows how repressed the system is and how the workforce is continually browbeaten by the employer. Good luck to the States if they choose to sack all striking nurses. All that will happen then is nurses will sign up to agencies and be re-employed on much higher rates and the wage bill for the island will be truly catastrophic.
We want to be clear – we want to talk. It was the States that ended the current talks by refusing the counter offer put forward by all four of the agenda for change unions and refusing to budge. As the IDO was clear the talks had finished, the RCN – along with Prospect and the RCM who had also rejected the last offer- agreed to ballot their members and we are in the process of doing this. The RCN negotiators are essentially agents of the nurses – nurses who are all clearly telling us that enough is enough. There is no ‘political’ agenda. The RCN is its membership and we are being clearly directed in our stance by Guernsey members and we are responding to their voice. As the largest union on the Island, representing both registered and unregistered nurses we welcome discussions but they must be open and realistic. At the very least they have to involve all parties coming around the table and the States didn’t have the courtesy to come and see our representatives on Monday despite flying to the Island. We know P&R are sick of us, and want us to get back in our box, but we aren’t going away, our members deserve more.
We will not be commenting on this matter further until the ballot has concluded on 18 December.
Steve Mundy, RCN Guernsey Branch Chair
Ged Swinton, RCN SE Board Chair
Heather Mercer, RCN SE Council Member