NURSES will vote on strikes for the first time in their union’s 100-year history if they wage-destroying 1 per cent pay cap is not axed by the next government, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said yesterday.
A consultative ballot of 50,000 of its 270,000 members found that nine out of 10 nurses would support action short of a strike, while nearly four out of five voted in favour of strikes.
Another ballot would have to be held before action could take place in the summer.
A separate survey conducted by the RCN found that 97 per cent of nurses considered the pay restraint unfair. Low pay and high stress are to blame for thousands of nursing posts remaining unfilled.
Nurses have suffered a 14 per cent real-terms pay cut since the Tories put a cap on public-sector pay in 2010. A 1 per cent figure was formally imposed in 2015.
The number of vacant posts has doubled since 2013 while patient demand has also risen. The RCN described these two factors as a “lethal cocktail” for the NHS. One in nine nursing jobs remain unfilled, according to figures obtained by the RCN from NHS trusts in England.
The union is calling for safe staffing levels to be enshrined in law.