RCM announces date to ballot members in Scotland on industrial action

By Colin Beesley on 07 September 2022 Midwifery Midwives Midwifery Workforce Maternity Services NHS Government Pay and Agenda For Change RCM Scotland Scotland

All RCM members working in the NHS in Scotland are set to be balloted on industrial action. A statutory ballot will launch on 29 September and run for four weeks until 27 October This follows an indicative survey of midwives, maternity support workers (MSWs) and maternity care assistants (MCAs) in which almost 90 percent of those who voted rejected the Scottish Government’s 5% pay offer and indicated that they would be willing to take industrial action.

The RCM has reassured its members that, should they vote to take industrial action, they will not be asked to break their NMC code of conduct and the NMC itself says midwifery professionals have the right to take part in lawful industrial action, including strike action.

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.

Commenting, RCM’s Director for Scotland Jaki Lambert said:

“Firstly, I’d like to thank 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, maternity care assistant or maternity support worker considers taking industrial action lightly, but I also understand that you’ve had enough. The Government’s below inflation pay offer was the final straw for so many who already feel undervalued. I’ve heard first hand from members across Scotland 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 a 5% pay award and we will stand with you and continue to fight for more.”

Eligible members will receive their ballot by post, so 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 can be done quickly and easily via the RCM’s website.

When the ballot closes at the end of October 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.

Alice Sorby, RCM’s Director of Employment Relations says: “In March 2017 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. Which means we need at least half of our eligible members in Scotland 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 in Scotland.”

Members can expect to receive their ballot papers in the post from Thursday 29 September and will need to return their ballot paper by post no later than Monday 24 October. This is to ensure it’s returned by the official day the ballot closes (27 October). Ballot papers received after that date cannot be counted. Each member will receive a prepaid envelope and the RCM recommends that they return their papers as soon as they receive them.