Up to 25,000 nurses are to receive training to become ‘activists’ in a bid to help nursing unions to convince the government to improve its pay offer.
The Royal College of Nursing has enlisted an expert in healthcare campaigning who has helped nurses in the US to unionise and win better terms.
Jane McAlevey will lead a campaign to teach nurses how to become more effective advocates and enlist more of its 475,000 members to vote in pay ballots and support local campaigns.
NHS pay and conditions
Last month, the NHS Pay Review Body recommended nurses in England receive a 1% pay increase for the 2021/22 pay round, which was described as “pitiful and bitterly disappointing” by unions.
The RCN is calling for a 12.5% pay rise for all nurses. Nurses in Scotland were recently offered a pay rise of at least 4%, with those in the lowest pay bands to receive a 5.4% increase.
The training will consist of a six-week course that will help nurses to channel “anger and frustration” and mobilise them to force a U-turn from the government.
It will also identify nurses who are “natural or organic leaders” and may not already be involved in union activity, McAlevey told the Guardian. She is a senior policy fellow at the University of California’s centre for labour research and education.
Dawn Dawes, chair of the RCN’s ruling council, said: “If we are going to be balloting for industrial action later this year, which looks increasingly likely, this training will make a huge difference in what the turnout of the ballot will be.
“If it’s up to the members whether or not we take industrial action, actually if you don’t get 50% of the members to vote, it’s dead in the water under trade union law.
“No nurse wants to do industrial action. But if you’re going to do it and successfully, you need to have the majority of the workforce on your side and you need to have the majority of the public understanding what this is about.”