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Nurses pass vote of no confidence in union over pay deal fiasco

Royal College of Nursing promises major changes to placate angry members

Mark Gould

Monday, 01 October 2018

Nurses have passed a motion of no confidence in Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Council over the way it communicated news of the NHS pay deal to its members.

The motion comes after a protracted saga within the RCN after its former general secretary Janet Davies admitted it had wrongly told members they would all be in line for an immediate 3% pay increase this year following the end of the 1% pay cap.

Members were frustrated after many did not receive expected rises in pay, forcing Davies to step down amid pressure from members, which led to the no-confidence vote in the college’s council at an emergency general meeting (EGM) in Birmingham on Friday.

The EGM was arranged after a petition about how the NHS pay deal for England was communicated attracted more than 1,000 signatures from members. The petitioners called for a vote of no confidence in the leadership of the RCN and for RCN Council to stand down. That motion received 11,156 (78.1%) votes in its favour, and 3,124 (21.9%) votes against. However, just 3.47% of RCN members took part in the vote.

Chair of RCN Council Maria Trewern said: “This vote is clear and the Council and management of the RCN have received the message. Council has already driven change within the organisation in recent weeks – to listen more closely to members and involve them thoroughly – and this will continue.”

An urgent Council meeting is to be convened this week to plan the way forward and those next steps will be announced.

Ahead of the EGM, an independent external review into the RCN’s understanding and communication of the 2018 NHS pay deal for England was published.

The review, carried out by the Electoral Reform Services, found that the RCN published contradictory information on whether the 3% rise would apply for all members. In a separate briefing before the RCN’s congress, representatives were incorrectly told there would be a “3% increase, plus an increase from incremental reform”. In fact, the 3% increase included the incremental rises and, in any case, only certain workers at the top of their pay band would receive that rise immediately.

“The majority of information conveyed to members about the implementation of the deal after congress was inaccurate (probably a result of an attempt to simplify the message),” a spokesperson from the Electoral Reform Services, who conducted the report, said.

“ERS believes that failure to inform decision makers of information that compared the current system with the proposed deal in a clear succinct manner, hindered informed balanced judgment as it failed to provide clear context to the headline gains, including the 6.5% and 29% figures used in during the campaign.”

The RCN says it is committed to implement the report's 12 key findings and observations with associated recommendations.

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