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Guernsey nurses confirm date for vote on industrial action

It is just the second time in their 103-year history the RCN will have had such a vote. Credit: PA Images

Members of the Royal College of Nursing in Guernsey and Alderney have confirmed the dates of an industrial action ballot.

It is just the second time in their 103-year history the RCN will have had such a vote.

The ballot will run from 10 February to 28 February and follows a year-long dispute between the union and states over pay.

Previous proposals had offered all workers a 5% pay rise, with another 5% increase to the majority of nurses the following year. However, the Royal College of Nursing said these were insulting offers.

Following the failed pay offers the RCN voted to take a ballot on industrial action. Now they have confirmed dates for that ballot.

Safety of patients remains paramount and members will not undertake any action that will put patients at risk. Members remain very grateful for the incredible support they have received from the public throughout their campaign.

– The Royal College of Nursing

It’s not too late. Our door remains open for discussion. No one wants to take this massive step, but our members have been left with no choice. They have been very clear in their instruction to us: they want equal pay for work of equal value. They don’t feel valued, they feel demoralised and some are seriously considering whether they even stay nursing on Guernsey now. The States need to listen to our concerns and engage fully to agree a resolution.

Until December 2019, the RCN had never been on strike anywhere. This ended in December when nurses in Northern Ireland took action over pay and severe staffing concerns. Following a short period of strike action, a new government was formed and was able to come to a settlement to end the strikes. We hope that all our members will use this once in a lifetime opportunity to have their say.

– Patricia Marquis, RCN Regional Director

The Policy and Resources Committee have responded to the announcement urging the RCN to not pursue strike action and criticising them for preventing nurses from getting a 10% pay increase.

They instead ask the union to engage with a resolution process already being led by an Industrial Disputes Officer.

Before the Committee engaged this independent process, the unions representing Agenda for Change staff rejected a number of pay awards proposed by the Policy and Resources Committee. The most recent of these would have seen staff receive a 5% increase backdated to January 2019, and a further 5% increase backdated to September 2019, resulting in an increase of 10.24%. This clearly demonstrates the Committee’s desire to negotiate in good-faith, and to make a pay award that recognises the hard work and dedication of our health care staff.

It is incredibly frustrating that the RCN has been unwilling to genuinely consider even this most recent offer.

As has been stated previously, the RCN’s UK-centric process for invoking industrial action does not have any basis and is not relevant in Guernsey law. This dispute has been formally lodged with the Industrial Disputes Officer. If the RCN do not intend to engage with the conciliation process seriously, the IDO has referred the matter to an industrial disputes tribunal for a legally binding resolution. As a result there is no benefit in carrying out industrial action in respect of which neither the union nor its members have any legal protection.

– States of Guernsey Policy and Resources Committee

The committee go on to say the RCN's actions do not suggest that their 'doors remain open for discussion' and that the ballot for industrial action will 'only serve to cause disruption for patients and colleagues'.