Nurses strike: Royal College of Nursing calls off strike action after vote ‘too low’ to count

Royal College of Nursing said just over 43% took part in the ballot, below the 50% threshold to call for a strike action.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The strike action of Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will not continue after the union’s ballot of its members in England failed to achieve a mandate, meaning the numbers taking part in the vote were too low for it to count despite the majority of members voting to continue to take industrial action.

According to the BBC, just over 43% took part in the ballot, below the 50% threshold required. The RCN balloted its members after the previous six-month mandate for strike action had expired. This comes after the health staff rejected the government’s pay deal of 5% rise and a lump sum of at least £1,655.

Members of Unison, the largest NHS union, and those affiliated with organisations representing physios and midwives also supported the deal, which has now begun to be paid.

This means, only Unite has a mandate for strike action in England, and only for local strikes involving some ambulance crew and support employees. The Royal College of Radiographers continues to ballot its members.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: “To every one of you who took part, whether by voting or encouraging others to, thank you. We have so much to be proud of.

“While the vast majority of members who returned their ballot papers voted in favour of strike action, we didn’t meet the 50% turnout threshold necessary for us to be able to take further strike action.

“While this will be disappointing for many of you, the fight for the fair pay and safe staffing our profession, our patients, and our NHS deserve is far from over.

“This week, the government will say it has a plan for the NHS workforce. I am seeing the Prime Minister this afternoon to hear him out and to ask him the questions you wanted answering on his commitment to nurses and support workers.

 Royal College of Nursing said just over 43% took part in the ballot, below the 50% threshold to call for a strike action.  (Guy Smallman/Getty Images) Royal College of Nursing said just over 43% took part in the ballot, below the 50% threshold to call for a strike action.  (Guy Smallman/Getty Images)
Royal College of Nursing said just over 43% took part in the ballot, below the 50% threshold to call for a strike action. (Guy Smallman/Getty Images)

“I know staff morale is low and the staffing crisis is set to worsen without immediate action. I will be telling him this today. We have started something special - the voice of nursing has never been stronger and we’re going to keep using it.”

This pay deal is different from the one affecting members of the British Medical Association as doctors are under a different contract, Junior doctors are set to go on strike for five days next month, while the results of the consultants’ strike ballot were closed on Tuesday.

Since the start of December, RCN members have gone on strike for eight days.

They have involved approximately half of the front-line services. In Wales, where a separate deal was rejected, the RCN is still on strike. In addition, the union is seeking a new six-month mandate to continue the walkouts.

Earlier this year, RCN members accepted an offer from ministers in Scotland.