NURSE strikes are inevitable unless the government offers NHS staff more cash, the UK’s top union has warned.
Early ballot results from the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland show nine out of 10 members voted to reject ministers’ pay rise offer.
The RCN said turnout was “really high” at 60 per cent and “the majority” are ready to strike.
It is a clear warning that a historic walkout could go ahead after nurses in England and Wales vote in September.
Union bosses, who are rallying members to back a strike, want a pay rise of at least 16.8 per cent – up from Whitehall’s current offer of around five per cent.
General secretary Pat Cullen said: “This is the clearest signal yet that industrial action is on the cards this year.
“Strike action should always be a last resort but too many nursing staff are leaving the profession because they cannot afford to be a nurse.
“This is creating staff shortages that are putting patient safety at risk and the government’s failure to listen has left us with no choice.”
If NHS nurses and midwives in all three nations vote to strike it would be the first time in the 106-year history of the RCN, which has nearly half a million members.
Members in Northern Ireland took action in 2019 but work in a different health system.
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Junior doctors at the British Medical Association and medics, porters and cleaners with the Unite union are also set to vote on striking in the pay row.
Unison yesterday said it will ballot its 50,000 health staff in Scotland.
Widespread strikes would derail already desperate efforts to clear the Covid backlog – and increase pressure on crumbling emergency services.
Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “While we respect the mandate given to trade unions, I am disappointed they have voted to reject the record five per cent pay deal.
“We will consider the next steps and look to re-engage with trade unions as soon as we can, and hope to reach a satisfactory outcome.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health in England said: Inflation-driven settlements would have a worse impact on pay packets in the long run.
“Industrial action is a matter for unions, and we urge them to carefully consider the potential impacts.”