We Could Take Action – Nurses

Nurses may consider industrial action if a pay award is not introduced in full, a leading Welsh nursing representative warns. Action is likely to exclude going on strike, says RCN Welsh chairman Eirlys Warrington, but would be designed to demonstrate to the government nurses’ anger over what is effectively a pay cut.

“This offer devalues us and is frankly, outrageous,” said Mrs Warrington, formerly a nurse and nurses’ rep in Gwent. The Pay Review Body recommended a 2.5 per cent rise for nurses but the government decided to implement it in two instalments, 1.5 per cent from April, the remainder in November.

This equates to a below inflation increase of 1.9 per cent, which Mrs Warrington warns will “accelerate the exodus” of nurses leaving the profession or seeking work abroad.

“Some nurses could be hundreds of pounds a year worse off, with council tax, phone bills, petrol, mortgages and the like going up, and especially in Wales they might be a family’s main breadwinner,” she said. “When I go to London on RCN business the American Nursing Association is always at the hotel, saying to nurses “come and talk to us.”

“I’ve never heard so much talk about what can be done in terms of industrial action. Nurses are asking a lot about that and we may be asked at (RCN) Congress next month what we plan to do. Nurses would never disturb patient care, but there are other types of action.”

The Assembly maintains it agreed a way forward with the Department of Health on two-stage implementation, but Mrs Warrington has written to First Minister Rhodri Morgan and Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain, urging them to ensure the pay award is introduced in full in Wales, as it will be in Scotland, from April 1.

A staged award she warns “can only further damage morale, recruitment and retention and ultimately, patient care.”