Nurses will stage the first national strike in the history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) this week after talks between the union and Health Secretary Steve Barclay failed to reach an agreement. Some 100,000 members are set to walk out at 65 NHS organisations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in two 12-hour strikes between 8am and 8pm on Thursday, December 15, and Tuesday, December 20. But do you support them taking industrial action? Vote in our poll.
The RCN is calling for a pay rise five percent above inflation and better working conditions for staff following shortfalls. The RCN claim that nurses have endured a real-terms pay cut of 20 per cent since 2010.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: “Anger has become action – our members are saying enough is enough. The voice of nursing in the UK is strong and I will make sure it is heard. Our members will no longer tolerate a financial knife-edge at home and a raw deal at work.”
She added: “This action will be as much for patients as it is for nurses. Standards are falling too low and we have strong public backing for our campaign to raise them. This winter, we are asking the public to show nursing staff you are with us.”
READ MORE: UK’s chief nurse warns of ‘unnecessary distress for patients’
The RCN has said there will be an exemption against staff taking action in emergency cancer services, mental health services, learning disability and autism services, and “protection” for sick babies.
Mr Barclay said: “I am hugely grateful for the hard work and dedication of nurses and deeply regret some union members will be taking industrial action. These are challenging times for everyone and the economic circumstances mean the RCN’s demands, which on current figures are a 19.2 per cent pay rise, costing £10bn a year, are not affordable.”
So what do YOU think? Do you support nurses going on strike? Vote in our poll and leave your thoughts in the comment section below.