The NHS management and government want nurses in England to accept 4% for last year and 5% for this coming year. It won’t stop staff from leaving and will make waiting lists longer. This is a pay cut as RPI is 13.8% and food inflation is 18%, which is on top of real terms pay cuts over the last 14 years.
By Martin Ralph
Nurses are aghast that union “leaders” in RCN, Unison and GMB agreed to an increase that is well below the UK’s rate of inflation. They want to go back on strike to push for a better one. The vote may be on a knife edge. If #VoteReject win, NHS staff could go back out on strike during the local elections, striking during the elections would be a great weapon in their hands.[i] There are likely to be many worker and socialist independent candidates standing in the elections who would support the nurses fighting for decent pay, such as Old Swan Against the Cuts in Liverpool.
First-time public speaker Tracy Scott at the LTUC/RMT rally at Lime Street Station, Liverpool. 18 March 2023. Her speech perhaps received the warmest support of all the speeches.
“I work in the region as a nurse in advanced practice within breast care. I am an RCN member. I certainly am not here to speak on behalf of the RCN.
“Today I stand before as a nurse, a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife, a friend and above all, as a human being who cares enough to stand up and be counted. I have a voice and I will not be silenced.
“I’m not going to stand here and regurgitate the horror stories caused by the decades of wilful neglect of the NHS by this hateful government. You do not need to hear it because you have lived it. I’ve worked 22 years in this profession and experienced countless more years watching my own family and this country battle through the persistent struggle against this government.
“I know you will have your own personal accounts of the hurt this government has caused. My story is no more worthy than yours.
“I look out at each of you today and each person walking past us, and I could cry for you all. Believe me when I say I have cried for you all. For all our people. No matter where you are from, the colour of your skin, who you love, or the accent with which you speak. But I have to say this. My tears, our tears, will not save us. So I am here today to call on you all to unite.
I’m sure you are all aware of the disgraceful insulting pay offer that some health unions have suggested that their members should accept.
It’s clear that other unions like the RMT are ‘masters of their art’ and win time and time again for their membership. Their successes have exposed the RCN’S shortcomings in ability and talent when it matters. This offer represents a failure for nurses like me… and the RCN’S systematic failure to know how to negotiate over the past 10 years has left nurses adrift with other public sector workers. RCN and other healthcare unions need to ask themselves, ‘how have we let it get to this’? Who have we been working for?
“NEU, RMT, and Unite executives – I do not criticise you. I commend you! I commend you for having the fight in your bellies for your members – may it long continue.
“I call on my ‘professional organisation’ to get off their elevated sense of worth and hierarchy and listen to your members. The RCN’S gulf in negotiation competency has allowed the Tory party to capitalise and control the mainstream media narrative on this dispute, creating their old dangerous trope of division – it’s how the Tories maintain power time and time again.
“I call on RCN members like me to unite in solidarity once again and show this Prime Minister he can’t control this woman’s narrative, and will certainly not dictate his hate to the men and women of the nursing profession. We reject your hate and we reject your DISGRACEFUL OFFER.
On the 22nd March 2023, #SOSNHS delivered a 178k petition to Downing Street calling on chancellor Rishi Sunak to grant the NHS vital funding. Meanwhile, the Tories are appointing operational staff within the NHS to privatise the organisation.
We have to keep fighting employers and the Government on wages, supporting the RCN nurses fighting to go against the RCN leadership and #VoteReject.
To all unions not settled such as the teachers, junior doctors or PCS workers, we say build the strike wave. Build the next coordinated strike. Build support for the nurses and the NHS.