RCM members in Wales vote yes to industrial action

on 13 December 2022 Midwifery Midwives Midwifery Workforce Maternity Services NHS Government Industrial Action MSWs - Maternity Support Workers NHS Wales Pay and Agenda For Change RCM Wales RCM Safety Staffing Levels Wales Welsh Government NHS Pay Review Body Pay

Sending a clear and defiant message to the Welsh Government, Royal College of Midwives (RCM) members in Wales have voted yes to industrial action over pay. The result follows a ballot of eligible RCM members in Wales that closed yesterday.

An extraordinary 95.14%, on a turnout of 55.39% of eligible members, voted yes to taking industrial action short of a strike. On the question ‘are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of a strike’, more than nine out of 10 (91.46%) members voted yes.

“The legal barriers to taking strike action are incredibly high, so passing the legal threshold of 50% turnout is no mean feat. It's testament to the persistence of RCM members in Wales that we got there, despite postal delays. The message you have sent to the Welsh Government could not be stronger or clearer: you are ready and willing to take a stand,” said RCM Director for Wales Julie Richards. “We know that this isn’t just about pay. It’s about what you, our members, see every day, in maternity services: staff stretched to the limit, high vacancy rates and midwives and MSWs struggling to deliver the right levels of care. Staff feel undervalued – but this vote shows that you refuse to be ignored any longer.”

The RCM and its workplace representatives will work with maternity service managers to ensure safety is maintained during any work stoppages so that safe care for mothers and babies is always prioritised.

“I know that for all of you this was a very hard decision to make and not one that you took lightly. Taking industrial action is always a last resort and this result shows just how desperate you are for policy makers to listen. I also know that you are exhausted and the disappointing and unacceptable pay 4% offer simply reinforced your feelings of being overlooked,” said Julie Richards. “This should be a kick start for the Welsh Government to get maternity services back on track, to stop the exodus of staff from the NHS and to rethink and  put a decent deal for you on the table.

Any decision to take industrial action must be approved by the RCM’s elected Board who will now look at the result of the ballot and consider the next steps.

RCM members in Scotland recently passed the threshold and voted yes to industrial action. Following a third and improved offer from the Scottish Government, they are now being consulted on whether to accept or reject the latest offer. This closes on 15 December.

It was announced last week that the 4% pay award is now being implemented in Northern Ireland. RCM members there were consulted on pay last month. Nearly 90% said they would be prepared to take industrial action if the pay award was implemented.

The RCM will be keeping its members updated on the next steps via member newsletters, social media and via the pay campaign website. To make sure you hear about this opt in to RCM communications and login to update your details so we have the right information and permissions to contact you.

For more information on pay and about the RCM’s pay campaign in England and Wales visit the RCM’s pay hub at England and Wales - NHS pay award and next steps (rcm.org.uk).

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