Nurses braced for industrial action over proposed pay cut

Nearly two-thirds of nurses would be willing to take industrial action if they receive an unsatisfactory pay deal this year, according the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Dr Peter Carter, RCN general secretary
Dr Peter Carter, RCN general secretary

With the Pay Review Body due to announce the 2007-08 recommended pay award for nurses any day now the RCN is urging the independent review body to give nurses a fair deal that reflects the real cost of living rather than the pay cut the government is proposing.

ICM surveyed 1,006 RCN members earlier this month. Sixty-two percent said if they received an unsatisfactory pay award they would be willing to take some form of industrial action, such as refusing to work unpaid overtime, take on extra work or go on strike, provided patients did not suffer in the process.

The government has recommended the Pay Review Body offer nurses a 1.5% pay deal. With the real rate of inflation currently running at 4.2 per cent, this amounts to a real terms pay cut of 2.7 per cent.

For the average nurse that means a £670.70 drop in their annual pay packet. The RCN is urging the government not to use nurses, already the worst paid professionals in the public sector, as a tool to fight inflation.

Nine out of ten nurses (90 per cent) say their cost of living has increased faster than any increase in pay over the past year, and 86 per cent say they would consider a 1.5 per cent pay award unfair, given the current rate of inflation.

Dr Peter Carter, RCN General Secretary, said: 'Ministers should be under no illusions - though industrial action is never a course of action we would take lightly - the RCN is not in the business of accepting a pay cut for our members.'

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