RCN says yes to nurses’ potential ballot

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LOOMING industrial action by Guernsey nurses is a step closer after the trade union committee of the Royal College of Nursing said ‘yes’ to a potential ballot.

The nurses’ march to Town in September in their protest over pay. (Picture by Ben Fiore, 26433939)

However, a ballot now needs the approval of the overarching RCN council, which will meet later this month.

More than 100 local nurses voted overwhelming to start the industrial action process at a meeting earlier this month, reflecting their dissatisfaction over pay.

The nurses are campaigning for an across-the-board 10% pay rise to redress what they call a historical inequality.

Policy & Resources – which acts as employer for public servants – has offered 5% this year for all nurses, and another 5% next year for lower and middle band nurses, with 3% for higher band nurses.

The RCN has so far refused to budge. Union officials have said that poor pay is driving people out of the profession and putting new people off entering it. At the heart of the nurses’ campaign is the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.

They want a meaningful pay rise which they say is needed to bring them into line with colleagues doing similar work across the States.

The union highlighted this week that a traffic warden earns more than a nurse, and a policy and legislation officer in the States, a post which requires no formal qualifications, can earn £18,000 more than a registered nurse.

A march organised by the nurses in September this year was well supported, with an estimated turnout of about 1,500 people.

It is not yet clear what form an industrial action in Guernsey could take, but nurses have stressed that their argument is not with patients, so emergency and life-saving care would not be affected.

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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