Nursing staff strike in dispute over fair pay

nursing staffApproximately 100,000 nursing staff have commenced strike action across England, Northern Ireland and Wales today (15 December) in an ongoing dispute about fair pay and patient safety.

The nurses have campaigned for a pay rise, and announced their intention to resort to industrial action last month, stating that without pay to match inflation, experienced employees have been 20% worse off since 2010.

Pat Cullen, general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), met with Health Secretary Steve Barclay on 12 December, but pay negotiations were unsuccessful. As a result, a further day of strike action was planned for Tuesday 20 December.

According to the RCN, these strikes could mark the start of a longer period of action if pay talks with ministers do not result in a satisfactory outcome. Cullen stated that if the Health Secretary did not want to negotiate directly, then the RCN would be open to working with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

Cullen said: “For many of us, this is our first time striking and our emotions are really mixed. The NHS is in crisis, the nursing profession can’t take any more, our loved ones are already suffering. It is not unreasonable to demand better. This is not something that can wait. We are committed to our patients and always will be.

“I have tried to negotiate and get governments to act. They’ve had every chance but they chose to turn their back on us. As hard as this is, we won’t turn our backs on our patients. Today, we strike for fairness. We strike for the future of our NHS. We strike because it’s our right and our duty to stand up for fair pay and for patient safety.”

Meanwhile, plans for Scottish strike action were paused while the RCN and the Scottish government return to negotiating. Eligible members have been consulted on a revised pay offer in a ballot that closes on Monday 19 December.