RCM announces date it will ballot members in England and Wales on industrial action
By Gemma Murphy on 07 October 2022 Midwifery Midwives MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Pay NHS Pay Review Body Pay and Agenda For Change Industrial Action RCM Member RCM RCM Wales NHS Wales NHS NHS Staff NHS England Wales Welsh Government Government
The RCM is urging all members working in the NHS in England and Wales to vote yes to industrial action over pay as it announces the date its official ballot will open.
After members in both countries overwhelmingly rejected their governments’ below-inflation pay award, the statutory ballot for midwives and maternity support workers will open on 11 November and run for four weeks. All members working as midwives or MSWs employed by the NHS in England and Wales are eligible to vote.
For now, the RCM says it’s vital that every member ensures their postal addresses and employment details are up to date, so they do not miss out on their chance to vote. This should be completed no later than 18 October, when the RCM will provide all member data to Civica, the independent voting service. Members can do this quickly and easily via the RCM’s website.
The RCM has reassured its members that, just as during previous strike action in 2014, safe services will be maintained should they vote to take industrial action and they will not be asked to break their NMC code of conduct. The NMC itself says midwifery professionals have the right to take part in lawful industrial action, including strike action.
Commenting, the RCM’s Director for Employment Relations, Alice Sorby said;
“I’d like to thank all our members for such a fantastic response to our consultation. You have given us a very clear steer to get to the point of balloting. I understand no midwife or maternity support worker considers taking industrial action lightly, but I also understand that you’ve had enough. The governments’ below inflation pay award was the final straw for so many who already feel undervalued. I’ve heard first hand from members across England and Wales about how they are struggling with the cost of living and worried about how increases to energy bills will impact them during the coming winter. We believe our members deserve more than £1400 or a 4% pay award and we will stand with you and continue to fight for more.”
If members do vote to take industrial action the RCM will work with maternity service managers to ensure safe services are maintained. The RCM has developed a guide which contains clear answers to any concerns or questions members have around talking industrial action.
Alice added; “The Trade Union Act 2016 (TUA) introduced new restrictions on trade unions balloting their members on industrial action. One of those restrictions imposed a 50 per cent turnout requirement on industrial action ballots. This means we need at least half of our eligible members in both England and Wales to turn out and vote for industrial action. If we do not meet that threshold, we are unable to take forward industrial action. So, I would encourage all members to respond to our postal ballot and remind colleagues to do the same. We need to hear all our members’ voices.”
Trade union law requires the ballot to take place by post, and members can expect to receive their ballot papers from 11 November. Prior to this, the official ballot papers arriving the RCM will also write to members via post with more information and details on the ballot process. Information on any developments will also be emailed to members today and over the coming weeks. When the ballot closes in December the next steps will be decided by the RCM Board. Due to trade union legislation, they will only be able to authorise industrial action if the turnout reaches 50 per cent.
The RCM is also inviting Activists and members who would like to learn more about the ballot process or have any questions on industrial action to join an online briefing session on Wednesday 12 October. Register to attend here