The Royal College of Nursing is weighing up the possibility of strike action over pay, it has been confirmed.
Representatives from the body claim that nurses have suffered a pay cut of 14 percent in real terms over the course of the last seven years as a result of pay freezes and an increase in the cost of living. The union is asking nurses whether they would like to participate in a strike before making a decision about issuing a formal ballot.
Since 2010, pay freezes and capped increases have resulted in a real-time pay cut of 14% taking the cost of living into consideration. The Department of Health stated that “affordable pay” was protecting nursing jobs in the UK, but the union has called for more to be done to increase pay, especially as the cost of living is rising all the time, and nurses are under increasing pressure.
In 2014, there was a campaign to encourage nurses to strike, but it was not backed by the union. This time, representatives claim that nurses are working harder than ever before and this is not reflected in their salaries.
The latest public sector pay review revealed a 1 percent increase for nurses, but this doesn’t mean that employees will be walking away with any extra income. A capped increase actually leaves nurses with less, as living costs are increasing year on year.
The RCN’s chief executive, Janet Davies, claimed that “too many” nurses are struggling to “make ends meet” and added that “nurses should not have to fund the NHS deficit from their own pay packets.” There are currently thousands of unfilled nursing posts across the country, and Ms Davies claims that pay and working conditions are the most significant reasons.