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05.03.15

RCN members join other unions in accepting pay offer

In one of the closest ballots yet, members of the Royal College of Nursing working for the NHS in England have voted to accept the government pay offer. 

The RCN now joins Unison, which also announced its ballot result this week, and the Royal College of Midwives, the Society of Radiographers and GMB, in announcing ballot results in favour of the offer.

Nurses voted 60-40 in to accept the offer, the closest vote yet. Unison members were 67% in favour while the other unions saw 80%-95% of members support the pay offer.

The RCN will meet NHS unions and employers on Monday (9 March) to decide on next steps. If there is agreement to accept the offer, the proposals will be implemented in England with effect from 1 April.

Peter Carter, RCN general secretary, said: “This offer falls far short of what our members deserve. It’s particularly hard on more senior and specialist nurses, who are critical to the future of the NHS. They are already voting with their feet, and this underlines the importance of proper workforce planning, to ensure the NHS has the nursing staff it needs to deliver safe and effective patient care.”

The new pay offer includes a consolidated 1% payment for all staff up to Band 8B (£45,707 to £56,504); an additional £200 consolidated payment for lower paid staff (pay points 3-8); and the first point on the pay scale (£14,294) to be abolished and the second raised to £15,100. 

The plans will not cost taxpayers more than the £280m originally planned, because staff earning more than £40,558 will not receive an increment rise in April this year.

The Royal College of Nursing did not join in with other unions in taking strike action over the government’s original decision to reject a 1% pay rise for NHS staff, which was recommended by the independent Pay Review Body last year. 

Instead, the government instituted a below-inflation 1% non-consolidated pay rise, which the 600,000 staff who receive progression pay increases over 1% would not receive. 

In October it is estimated about 400,000 staff and six unions took part in the first round of strikes. Nine unions took part in the second round of action in November causing further disruption. However RCN members voted against strike action each time.

Michael Brown, chair of the RCN Council, added: "We know this offer doesn’t make up for the years of pay restraint our members have endured, or for the intense pressures they face. Members may have accepted it, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy with it.

“Nor does it mean that the RCN’s fight for fair pay for all nursing staff is over. We know the government is looking at how to get 7 day working on the cheap, and we will do everything we can to defend the terms and conditions of our members.”

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