RCN members employed by the NHS in England on Agenda for Change contracts will be asked if they’re prepared to take strike action in response to the UK government’s pay offers for 2022/23 and 2023/24.
The ballot will open on Tuesday 23 May and close on Friday 23 June. By law, it must be conducted by post. RCN Council is recommending members vote “yes” to strike action to win back the fairness, safety and justice the nursing profession and patients deserve.
Last week, the NHS staff council voted, on balance, to accept the government’s pay offer. This will now be paid and is expected to arrive in June pay packets. However, the RCN voted to reject the offer because eligible members made it clear in our latest consultation that the pay offer isn’t good enough. We’ve been clear that the RCN remains in dispute with the government over unfair pay.
To get the Westminster government to reopen talks, we now need to show even greater determination, including getting a new strike mandate to cover both the 2022-23 and 2023-24 pay years.
We aren’t just seeking a mandate to strike at individual NHS employers this time, we’re seeking a country-wide mandate that allows for an even larger strike than we’ve conducted until now. To achieve this, 50% of all eligible members must vote, and the majority vote “yes” to strike action. If we miss this threshold, we won’t be able to stage strike action at any NHS employer in England.
Today (9 May), RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen gave evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee in Westminster about the impact of NHS strike action. In an email to members today, she said:
“This afternoon, I was in Parliament defending our members, profession and patients. I told politicians how our profession has been left behind and how you're forced to make impossible choices every day. I told them how integral fair pay for nursing staff is to the future of our NHS. I called for the government to come back to the negotiating table as we will continue to demand better with a renewed mandate for strike action.
“Every day, patients are at risk due to chronic staffing shortages. The government has tried to turn people against us by saying strikes are unsafe. But it’s their failure to invest in nursing that has made our wards unsafe. Record waiting lists, people left for hours in A&E, staff forced to treat patients in corridors – it’s all been caused by tens of thousands of nursing vacancies, not by our strikes.
“Now I’m asking you to use your voice again. By voting, you can help make the challenges facing our profession impossible to ignore. You can force the government back to the negotiating table and to make an improved pay offer. You can give a voice to patients no longer safe in an NHS that is falling apart due to government underfunding.”
Members must tell us they’re eligible to vote by midnight on Sunday 14 May. They do this by checking their details are correct at rcn.org.uk/myrcn. Their member record must show that they're employed by the NHS in England on an Agenda for Change contract. Their correct home address, email address and job category is also vital to ensure all eligible members receive a ballot paper and are able to vote. This deadline also applies to people joining the RCN for the first time.