Royal College of Nursing Chief Executive visits Luton and Dunstable Hospital ahead of crucial ballot deadline

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The union leader is expecting voting on potential strike action to go down to the wire

The Royal College of Nursing Chief Executive and General Secretary Pat Cullen visited Luton and Dunstable University Hospital this morning (21 June) to discuss strike action.

Pat Cullen was at the Bedfordshire facility just two days prior to the deadline for the latest ballot.

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Nurses across the country are being asked to vote on whether to continue strike action for further six months.

Under the 2016 trade union laws at least 50 per cent of members must vote in favour of industrial action.

It is feared that the RCN will not reach this marker due to fears postal votes will not be received in time for them to be counted. Votes cannot be submitted online.

Three coordinated periods of strike action have been organised by the RCN since December 2022.

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Ms Cullen told The Guardian on Monday (19 June): “Talking to nurses today, it is clear that they are unhappy with how they’re being treated and feel the NHS is on a precipice. After nurses said they needed better from government, they can vote again on whether to take more strike action until December. There are only a couple of days left to vote by post and it is starting to look like the government’s rules on postal voting could get the better of us.”

Pat Cullen at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, photo from @Patcullen9Pat Cullen at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, photo from @Patcullen9
Pat Cullen at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, photo from @Patcullen9
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In a separate interview with The Standard, the union leader said she expected it to be a “close call” when asked how the upcoming vote is likely to go.

Members have been encouraged to vote in favour of further strikes to pressurise the Government into improving pay for nurses.

Most recently the Government offered a deal including a 5 per cent pay rise for 2023-24 and a one-off payment of at least £1,655. This was rejected by the RCN and Unite, but accepted by Unison, the GMB and Royal College of Midwives.

If nursing staff vote for strike action, it would mean that the RCN would have a mandate to strike in every NHS trust where people are affiliated to the union.