The Royal College of Nursing Council (RCN) has committed to ballot its members on strike action over pension reforms in January 2012.
This is provided pension negotiations fail by the end of December 2011.
The council's decision was unanimous.
"That members' serious concerns over the Government's pension proposals must be addressed in a credible way through continued negotiations," the RCN Council said.
"If negotiations fail by the end of December 2011, Council will authorise a ballot on industrial action at a meeting in January."
Professor Kath McCourt, Chair of the RCN Council, said while nurses would not take "an unprecedented step" over industrial action "lightly", the feeling of anger among members is so strong that a move to ballot has been made for the New Year.
The government's should be in "no doubt" the move to enhanced its pension offer last week (2 November), an offer that has been widely touted as the "deal of the century", has not "fully addressed nurses' concerns" over the pension reforms, said Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN.
He warns "something has to give".
"Nurses and Healthcare Assistants take their roles incredibly seriously, so the fact that they have asked us to prepare for a ballot on industrial action shows something of the strength of feeling out there," said Dr Carter.
"NHS pensions have already been reformed, and nurses have accepted the need to pay more for their income in retirement. Nurses aren't asking for the world, but a fair pension, as agreed in 2008, offers nurses a dignified, but not lavish provision for their retirement.
"Nurses are only asking for something they have worked hard for – a fair pension in retirement. When you keep asking people to work longer, pay more and still end up with less, something has to give."
Is the RCN right to ballot members in the New Year? Do you think it is too late?
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
“Why haven’t the RCN coincided with our sister unions regarding a ballot? Therefore giving greater support to our fight? RCN, too little too late I feel. The fee-paying members ARE the union. How does the RCN propose to keep its very many members after we all leave in droves to a union who is prepared to give us more than lip service? We need action, not fancy newsletters.” – Richard Skelhorn, Liverpool
"Should have been in line with all other public sector unions and joined call for strike action in November." – Helen Mackenzie, Glasgow
"Yes we should have done it at the same time as the other unions." – Sandra Strickland, Essex
"Too late." – Gillian Brydon, Edinburgh
"Yes, we do need to ballot. Should have been done earlier but not too late. The RCN should be balloting on industrial action now - and plan it well. Not just about pensions. The cuts and increased bureaucracy is taking away from patient care. We need to start shouting quality not numbers." – Janette Parry, Wembley
"Ballot needs to happen however we should have had the option to go out with the rest of our colleagues in November." – Teresa Milligan, Scotland
"I think it would have been of greater benefit to have had the ballot for 30th Nov strike day and the government would have seen the extent to which the workforce, as a whole, are angry at their policies regarding our pension." – Julia McCrum
"I feel very strongly that if negotiation proves fruitless then we have no option but to strike. I have never felt so angry and we have to make a stand and make out voice heard at last. Nurses in general are laid back when dealing with situations like this, however it is time to change and take action." – Louise Sermanni, Eaglesham
"I hope it's not too late. Although we need to remember our code of conduct and profession we also need to remember that we are at risk of having our pensions demolished. I have been working in the NHS since the 1970's and feel let down." – Tracy Beckham, Berkshire East
"Ideally it would have been better if all unions balloted at the same time. Unison is due to hold one day of action on the 30th November, there is strength in numbers after all." – Sara, Scotland
"Yes, I feel it is right." - Marian Lowe, East Lancs
"Action is needed however I feel negotiations should be given the opportunity to reach an agreement, the agreement should be no cuts for anyone who had already joined the pension scheme." – Wendie Smith, Bristol
"I am concerned about the pensions but still not sure if I could strike! But something has to give as the only people the government are protecting are themselves and bankers." – Lorna Coles, Birkenhead
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