Nurses move step closer to strike
Nurses have dealt another blow to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley by moving a step nearer strike action on pay.
Delegates at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) conference overwhelmingly passed a motion saying members should be balloted on industrial action if there are any attacks on their pay agreement. They also voted massively in favour of a motion saying Mr Lansley's reforms of the NHS will not benefit patient care.
Health minister Anne Milton infuriated nurses earlier in the week when she said an offer was still on the table for no compulsory redundancies in return for nurses accepting a two-year pay freeze when they move up pay bands in accordance with their experience.
The proposal, made by NHS Employers last year, was rejected by all major health unions including Unison, the British Medical Association and the RCN.
The RCN described the proposal as an "attack on hard-working nurses" and said NHS Employers had been unable to even guarantee that more than 100 trusts would stick to any agreement on no compulsory redundancies.
Speaking in favour of the motion for a possible ballot on strike action, nurse Tom Bolger, from Suffolk, said: "We've had enough of deception, of lies and bully boy tactics."
He said industrial action did not have to mean all-out strike but could take the form of nurses not completing all "tick box" forms and finishing work on time.
The motion, which was passed 97% in favour to 3% against, said the RCN should ballot members on industrial action if there was any "imposition" of an incremental freeze or any other proposal which challenged nurses' national pay agreement. Some 438 nurses voted in favour, 14 against and eight abstained.
Mr Bolger told delegates the RCN had "methods in place to ensure patient safety is in place at all times". He added: "Don't be scared. It's time to shout 'I'm mad as hell and I won't put up with it any more'."
But Bethann Siviter, from Birmingham, spoke against the threat of industrial action. She said patients "need to know we stand with them and not outside the hospital".