Nursing union requests double-digit salary increase

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The leader of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) . lmage source: PA MEDlA

The health secretary has been urged by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) president to reopen wage talks with a double-digit increase on the table.

Following a 4% increase for 2022–2023, the majority of health unions have accepted the offer of a 5% increase for 2023–2024 together with a one-time payment covering the prior year.

The RCN, however, has decided not to accept the offer.

The compensation offer is now definitive, a Department of Health source said. Grant Shapps, the secretary of energy, called the planned arrangement “very generous.”

Union president Pat Cullen praised her members for their fortitude in a Times interview and urged government representatives to pick up the pace of negotiations by offering a two-year, double-digit salary increase as a starting point.

The RCN pushed for a wage increase of 5% over the RPI inflation rate last year, which peaked in October at almost 14%. None of the UK countries, however, has even come close to providing such an increase.

The government’s offer was then rejected in a vote with 54% voting against it and 46% voting in favor, despite the RCN pleading with its union members to accept it.

The nursing union will therefore move through with a vote for more strike action later this month.

During the course of the conversation, Ms. Cullen admitted, “Reflecting on this pay offer, I may have personally underestimated the determination of our members.

” She urged Health Secretary Steve Barclay to restart talks, highlighting the importance of starting with double-digit figures.

Ms. Cullen emphasized that governments have a duty to prevent nurses from going on strike for a further six months, all the way through the holiday season.

A representative for the RCN reaffirmed, “The negotiations, which spanned two fiscal years, led to a consolidated 9% rise in NHS pay. When our members rejected that, it was clear that they were hoping for a double-digit offer.

On May 1st, nurses in England went on a 24-hour strike, which was the first time members of the RCN walked out in any setting, including intensive care.

They also took part in two other days of industrial action earlier this year: February 6 and 7 and January 18 and 19.

In response to Ms. Cullen’s call for a double-digit pay rise, Mr. Shapps expressed his confusion, citing the previous encouragement for members to accept the smaller offer.

He described the reached agreement as a “great settlement” and found it perplexing that Ms. Cullen was now advocating for a different approach.

Mr. Shapps emphasized that the current offer on the table is already very generous.

He mentioned the need to consider the overall state of the public purse and stated that accepting the existing offer would be a positive way to bring about a resolution.

When asked about the possibility of a double-digit pay rise, he responded by highlighting the need for balance and reiterated the benefits of the current offer, suggesting it would be beneficial to reach a settlement on that basis.

Ms. Cullen expressed her pride in RCN members in advance of the RCN conference in Brighton. She praised their selflessness for turning down the government’s pay offer and giving up their own wages on strike days to assist the NHS.

She stressed that nurses saw it as their duty and responsibility to take action since they feel that the government is not listening to their concerns about the NHS.

Nurses are resolute and won’t be the first to back down in these negotiations, Ms. Cullen said in a message to the prime minister.

On May 2nd, eleven health unions supported a deal that would grant over a million NHS employees a 5% pay increase. This agreement, applicable to nurses in England as well, also includes a one-time payment of at least £1,655, ensuring additional compensation for all staff members.

While some unions, including the RCN and Unite, rejected the offer, it ultimately gained acceptance due to a majority consensus. However, both unions issued warnings that they would continue to pursue strike action.

When asked why nurses deserve a larger increase compared to other healthcare workers, Ms. Cullen responded by referring to a recent public statement made by the prime minister. She highlighted that not too long ago, the prime minister publicly acknowledged that nurses are an exception, justifying their unique circumstances.


Ms. Cullen agreed with the prime minister’s comments and emphasized that because of their distinctive traits and contributions, nurses should be thought of as extraordinary people.

According to a government source, the health secretary is amenable to negotiations about enhancing working conditions inside the NHS and ensuring staff members receive prompt payment.

In order to properly treat patients, the source suggested a move away from industrial actions and called for cooperation.

Wales’ nurses are getting ready to walk out this summer after rejecting the state government’s salary proposal.

In contrast, union members in Scotland have agreed to a proposal for 2023–24 that represents an average 6.5% raise.

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