Nursing strikes in England paused due to low ballot turnout
The voter turnout did not meet the legal requirement of 50% necessary for strikes to proceed
FILE PHOTO: NHS nurses hold banners during a strike, amid a dispute with the government over pay, in London, Britain January 18, 2023. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Britain’s main nursing trade union, on Tuesday (27) announced that it had been unable to obtain a new mandate for strike action in England.
This development temporarily ends the possibility of additional strikes by tens of thousands of nurses, which has already disrupted a healthcare system under significant strain.
According to the RCN, approximately 84% of participating nurses in the ballot expressed support for further strikes.
However, the voter turnout did not meet the legal requirement of 50% necessary for strikes to proceed.
“The fight for the fair pay and safe staffing that our profession, our patients, and our NHS deserves, is far from over,” RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen said.
Cullen said she was meeting Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday to discuss the government’s plan for the NHS workforce.
“I know staff morale is low and the staffing crisis is set to worsen without immediate action. I will be telling him this today,” she added.
In April, nurses rejected a 5% pay rise offer by the government which is now being implemented for more than 1 million NHS staff in England after unions representing a majority of workers involved in the dispute voted to accept it.
The National Health Service (NHS) is dealing with record patient backlogs and serious staff shortages, and still faces other strikes involving doctors.
Junior doctors in England last week said they plan to strike for a further five days in July, and a ballot of senior doctors closes on Tuesday.
Hundreds of thousands of workers in Britain including teachers and railway staff have taken strike action over the last year, demanding better pay amid high inflation.
“I hugely value nurses’ work and welcome the end to disruptive strikes so staff can continue caring for patients and cut waiting lists,” health minister Steve Barclay said on Twitter. “I hope other unions recognise it’s time to end their strikes.”