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Strike threat after union calls pay offer a ‘slap in the face’

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A NURSES’ union has threatened strike action after urging its members to reject a pay deal which it describes as a ‘slap in the face’.

Nurses and supporters march through town in 2013

The Royal College of Nursing yesterday began balloting members to gauge views on the latest pay offer – which the States says would result in nurses being given on average a 6.6 per cent rise backdated to January.

Di Francis, RCN senior officer for Jersey, said the pay deal was ‘deeply disappointing’ and that few would actually benefit from the deal.

She added that the RCN, along with its sister unions the Royal College of Midwives and the Jersey Nursing Association, have tried to engage in further negotiations but the States were not prepared to reconsider their offer and increase the funding available.

Her comments come after Unite the Union last week branded the pay deal ‘wholly inadequate’ and accused the States of deliberately trying to make the pay offer appear ‘far more attractive than it actually is by using artificially high headline figures’.

The ballot of members of the RCN, RCM and JNA runs until Wednesday 19 September.

‘We are asking them to reject it,’ Mrs Francis said. ‘If they reject it there could be some sort of industrial action. It could be up to and including strike action.’

She said that the offer was ‘virtually the same’ as the Workforce Modernisation pay offer which members rejected earlier this year and added that although there had been small improvements to unsocial-hours payments the deal would have a ‘damaging impact on nursing’.

‘The current offer from the States is deeply disappointing for our members, and it is very frustrating to have hit a brick wall with negotiations, as we tried hard to reopen these and highlight why the current offer will not only impact on nurses but will potentially impact on patients,’ Mrs Francis said.

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‘Particularly disappointing is the fact that it still does not offer pay parity with allied health practitioners in the Island, which was promised over six years ago. There is absolutely no reason why a nurse should not expect to be paid in line with other healthcare colleagues of equivalent experience and skill. Members are saying this is a slap in the face – they feel undervalued and underpaid and are shocked and disappointed that the States have not listened to their concerns.’

A States spokeswoman said: ‘Recognising the high value we place on nurses and midwives, we have offered to increase pay by an average of 6.6 per cent over two years.

‘If accepted, this will be backdated to 1 January 2018. We have also offered higher increases to those who are paid the least, so the pay increases for individuals for 2018 and 2019 range from 1.25% to 18.1%.’

In 2013, hundreds of nurses, midwives and their supporters marched through the town centre to demonstrate that they wanted a fair and equitable pay deal.

It was an unprecedented public display by such a large group of healthcare staff and led to an improved pay offer from the States.

Krysta Eaves

By Krysta Eaves
author

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