RCN vows to press on with ‘Summer of Protest’ as vote to end pay cap fails

The RCN has expressed “bitter disappointment” at the failed result of the vote in the House of Commons to end the 1% public sector pay cap yesterday.

But after declaring that the ‘Summer of Protest’ had now officially started this week, the RCN has vowed to push on and continue to campaign for a better pay deal for its members.

In an amendment put forward by Labour to end the freeze on wages for workers in the public sector, the Conservative-DUP government blocked the motion by the slim margin of 323 votes to 309.

Amongst health groups, the policy has been incredibly unpopular, as last week 15 organisations and unions penned a joint letter to the government calling for an end to the pay cap.

The vote was also passed despite a senior Conservative source hinting yesterday that the cap would be reviewed in the next Budget, as well as health secretary Jeremy Hunt suggesting that the policy might be dropped.

 “This is a bitter disappointment for nurses and others in the public sector,” said Janet Davies, chief executive of the RCN. “At lunchtime, there were signs the government was listening to our calls, but by the evening they voted to keep the pay cap in place. Our members’ Summer of Protest will continue.”

Davies added that the union knew that a growing number on the government’s own bench agreed that the cap should be scrapped.

“We will continue to build cross-party support this summer. If the prime minister intends to address pay in an autumn Budget, she should do so without delay, said Davies. “The pay cap stands in the way of filling the 40,000 vacant nurse posts in England. When NHS and care services are short of safe staffing, patients pay a heavy price.”

It is welcome that the government has said it will listen to the Pay Review Body’s evidence but they must also act on it, she concluded: “The RCN will play its part in showing ministers how they can address the real-terms loss of earnings – worth £3,000 a year – since 2010.”


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