RCN Scotland urges members to reject 5% pay offer – Nursing Times


‘This is a situation that cannot go on indefinitely’
STEVE FORD, EDITOR
27 June, 2022 By
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The Royal College of Nursing Scotland has urged its members to reject the Scottish Government’s 5% pay offer in an upcoming ballot.
The Scottish branch of the college has unveiled plans to consult its members on the proposed pay deal, which will cover the 2022-23 financial year, being backdated to 1 April 2022.
If accepted, it would see all Agenda for Change staff paid at least £10.50 per hour and would involve a rise of slightly above 5% for those on band 1 and the first pay point in band 2.
“The argument for an above-inflation pay increase for our hard-pressed nursing staff is more compelling than ever”
Julie Lamberth
The RCN consultation will open on Tuesday 12 July and close on Thursday 4 July and members eligible to take part can vote.
Julie Lamberth, chair of the RCN Scotland board, warned that its members were “exhausted” and that six in 10 of them were considering leaving their jobs.
In addition, she said 86% had reported working with staffing levels that were insufficient to provide safe and effective care.
“Stick on top of all that the skyrocketing cost of living, from petrol to food to energy prices, and the argument for an above-inflation pay increase for our hard-pressed nursing staff is more compelling than ever,” she said.
Ms Lamberth said the latest pay offer failed to match the expectations of an above-inflation pay award, but that member should have a final say on whether to accept it.
“We believe the nursing profession deserves fair pay that recognises our contribution, supports retention and recruitment to ensure patient safety and compensates for the failure of salaries to keep up with the cost of living over the last 10 years. We are recommending our members reject this offer,” she said.
This is the second year that the Scottish Government has negotiated directly with employers and unions, rather than following the UK-wide NHS Pay Review Body recommendations.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that RCN is recommending members reject this offer which, if accepted, will be the biggest single year pay rise NHS Agenda for Staff have seen since devolution, and will ensure that our staff continue to remain the best paid in the UK.”
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The RCN Scotland ballot will also consult its members on whether they would be willing to take industrial action, short of and including strike action, if the majority of its members vote to reject the offer.
This comes the same week as the wider college raised concerns about recent law changes related to strike action.
The UK government unveiled a change in law which would allow employers across all sectors to use temporary staff to cover roles affected during strikes.
The government argued that this law would help reduce disruptions and impact of strikes on the British public by ensuring that businesses and services can continue operating.
“If our members choose to take industrial action, the focus will always be on keeping patients safe”
Joanne Galbraith-Marten
However, the RCN has said it believes that this is an attempt to make strike action ineffective and could put patients at risk in the event of industrial strike action in the health care sector.
RCN director of employment relations and legal services Joanne Galbraith-Marten said: “This change is undemocratic and unsafe. Nursing is a highly skilled profession and staff cannot simply be swapped in to cover without thorough planning for the care needed.
“If our members choose to take industrial action, the focus will always be on keeping patients safe.”
As part of this announcement, the UK government has indicated it is also raising the maximum damages the courts can award against a union when strike action has been found to be unlawful by the courts.
The cap, which has been in place since 1982, will be increased from £250,000 to £1m.
Ms Galbraith-Marten added: “Ministers’ plans to quadruple the damages courts can award against unions looks like an attempt to further limit workers’ rights to challenge unfair treatment.
“The irony of using inflation to justify these increases, when ministers claim a pay rise for nursing in line with the cost of living is beyond them, will not be lost on our members.”
The UK government is expected to announce what pay rise NHS staff in England will be awarded for 2022-23 very soon.
The decision will have an impact on what funds are available for an NHS pay rise in other UK countries and an announcement by the Welsh Government is expected to follow.
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