‘Militant’ nursing union tells Government it has FIVE DAYS to begin ‘formal pay negotiations’

‘Militant’ nursing union tells Government it has FIVE DAYS to begin ‘formal pay negotiations’ if it wants to avoid devastating NHS strikes going ahead next month

Ministers were today told devastating NHS strikes will begin this winter unless they enter ‘formal pay negotiations’ with nurses in the next five days.

The Royal College of Nursing is demanding an inflation-busting rise for its 300,000 members. 

It wants a hike of around 19.2 per cent, the equivalent of roughly an extra £6,835 for the average nurse on £35,600.

Steve Barclay has already held crisis talks with the RCN twice since it announced it would launch a ‘historic’ waves of strikes that are set to begin before Christmas and rumble on until May. Other medical unions are planning to co-ordinate walk-outs to cause as much chaos as possible.

The Health Secretary has, however, yet to agree a deal to avert piling further misery on patients this winter. He has said he will not budge on pay demands. 

Pat Cullen, RCN’s general secretary and chief executive, said: ‘It is with regret that I write to say unless our next meeting is formal pay negotiations, beginning within the next 5 days, we will be announcing the dates and locations of our December strike action.’

This graph shows the Royal College of Nursing’s demands for a 5 per cent above inflation pay rise for the bands covered by its membership which includes healthcare assistants and nurses. Estimates based on NHS Employers data

The RCN is just one NHS union which has or is balloting its members over pay

The RCN is just one NHS union which has or is balloting its members over pay

In her letter, Ms Cullen said her recent meetings with Mr Barclay were welcome, but added that ‘I must not let my members nor the public confuse these meetings for serious discussions on the issues of NHS pay and patient safety’.

She said: ‘You have again asked to meet in the coming days and for this third occasion I must be clearer in my expectation.

‘There is only value in meeting if you wish to discuss – in formal, detailed negotiations – the issues that have caused our members to vote for strike action.

‘It is now more than a week since we announced our ballot outcome and your department has dedicated more time to publicly criticising our members’ expectations than finding common ground and a satisfactory conclusion.

‘I also point out that this stands in contrast to the approach taken by governments and executives in other parts of the United Kingdom.’

Critics of the strike have described the RCN as being ‘militant’. 

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