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Northern Ireland members join rest of the UK in biggest ever nursing strike ballot

Strike Hub

Visit our strike hub to stay up to date with new details about strike action, learn about strike benefit, donate to our strike fund and more.
25 Aug 2022

We’re encouraging eligible members to vote in favour of strike action when the ballot opens on 15 September.

Nursing staff standing on steps of a hospital holding RCN placards

Nursing staff in Northern Ireland will join colleagues across the UK as the RCN ballots members on strike action.

The ballot is being launched in response to this year’s NHS pay award in England and Wales, and the NHS pay offer in Scotland. Nursing staff in Northern Ireland have yet to receive a formal pay offer for 2022/23 due to the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Executive.

RCN Council agreed that members in Northern Ireland will join the ballot, which will ask RCN members working for NHS and HSC employers on Agenda for Change contracts if they will take strike action, which involves a complete withdrawal of labour. The RCN is campaigning for a fully-funded pay rise for nursing staff of 5% above inflation.

If members support strike action, it will be the first ever strike by RCN members in England, Wales and Scotland, following the historic 2019 strike in Northern Ireland.

Rita Devlin, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland, said: “It is quite unbelievable that three years after we took industrial action for the first time in the RCN’s history, we’re asking members if they will take strike action again.

“Serious shortages of nursing staff are putting patient safety at risk. Governments across the UK have failed to take action on this issue and in Northern Ireland, with no functioning Northern Ireland Executive to appeal to, nursing staff have not received a pay offer at all.”

At least 50% of eligible members must vote in the ballot, with the majority voting in favour, for strike action to be legal. In England and Scotland, there are further thresholds that would need to be met on top of this one for strike action to be legal.

Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive, said: “There’s never been a more urgent time to fight for fair pay and patient safety. From severe staff shortages to a decade of underpayment, we can’t continue like this.

“Nursing staff will stop at nothing to protect their patients. Staff shortages are putting patient safety at risk and the failure of governments across the UK to listen has left us with no choice but to advocate for strike action.”

There is a Northern Ireland member event on pay this evening (25 August) from 6.30pm-7.30pm, to discuss what the strike ballot means and what will happen next. There will also be a second event on Thursday 8 September from 1pm-2pm. Please email to book your place.

The ballot will run across the UK from 15 September until 13 October. Make sure your home address, employer, workplace and job category details are up to date on MyRCN.


Page last updated - 11/02/2023