The RCN has said it will continue to campaign alongside other unions for an NHS pay award above inflation after splitting from a previously agreed joint position.
It announced last week it was calling for a pay rise at 5% above inflation, but a group of 13 healthcare unions – including the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), Unison, GMB and Unite – said this contradicted a joint position on pay they said the RCN had previously agreed to.
Carol Popplestone, chair of the RCN council, has argued in a statement the split was not ‘uncollegiate’ but was the RCN ‘doing the right thing’ by its members. There is ‘common ground’ between unions, who the RCN will join to campaign together for a pay rise above inflation, she said.
However, this comment appears to contradict the 13 unions’ statement last week that the RCN’s decision to ‘will prevent it from being part of joint campaign activity on pay this year’.
‘Not an uncollegiate decision’
Ms Popplestone also said the RCN’s formal submission to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB), which advises the Government on NHS pay, was ‘worked on and approved by’ elected members.
She continued: ‘Members deserve to know what the RCN is asking for… The only difference between the RCN and other unions is that we are confidently stating that nursing deserves a pay award 5% higher than the rate of inflation.
‘That isn’t being uncollegiate, it’s about doing the right thing by our members and being honest about what ‘above inflation’ means for us,’ she continued.
‘Behind closed doors and out at the street protests, I’ll stand alongside all trade unions campaigning for a significant above inflation NHS pay rise.’
In contrast to the RCN, the group of unions has called on the Government to implement an ‘inflation-busting pay rise’ and an ‘urgent’ retention package rather than naming a desired figure.
They had deemed it too ‘risky’ to set an increase given ‘forecasts differ wildly about how high living costs will rise throughout the pay rise’ and rising inflation rates, their statement explained.
But they did ask the Government to commit to increase NHS wages ‘over a clear timetable’, starting with the 2022/23 rise as a ‘down payment’. The ‘value of NHS wages has been held back over a long period of time as a matter of government policy,’ they added.
This comes after the Government identified an ‘affordable headline pay award of up to 3%’ in evidence submitted to the NHS PRB last month.