Guernsey’s nurses have forced their union to rethink its opposition to a pay deal.
Local members of the Royal College of Nursing, unhappy they have not had the pay rise, fear their union had been pushing them toward strike action.
A petition the members circulated has forced the RCN to reopen a survey of members to help find out if there is a majority in favour of accepting what the States has offered.
The man who had been heading up the negotiations on behalf of the RCN, Kenny Lloyd, has just retired as Guernsey pay convenor, while a new branch executive has also recently been elected.
Pictured: Kenny Lloyd has retired as the RCN's convenor in Guernsey.
The union is heading into an industrial disputes process over the pay offer, which would have given an uplift of 5% plus a £500 pay out in 2022, which is above inflation, a 7% rise this year (based on June 2022’s inflation figure), and a rise of RPIX (based on June 2023 inflation) minus 1% in 2024.
Faced with the current strength of their members' thoughts, the union executive had moved to asking Policy & Resources to implement the deal without the union’s agreement, while leaving the dispute live for further talks through the industrial disputes offer.
“As you may be aware, following the original ballot which rejected the pay offer we have hit a wall with P&R in terms of moving any discussion forward. This has been a cause of huge frustration no matter how you originally voted,” a statement by the RCN branch to its members said.
“Since then, the RCN launched a survey to try and ascertain members views, however only 18% of eligible members responded to this. An RCN group of members launched a separate petition asking for the matter to be bought to an EGM. You may have signed this. We are unable to act upon this but do recognise this as a way for members to vent their frustration at the slowness of the process we find ourselves in. We have asked P&R to impose the pay offer while pay is discussed but this has been refused.”
In guidance to its members on the latest survey, which closes on 13 February, it said it could not use the petition set up by RCN members as it did not “follow proper RCN governance or GDPR processes”.
Pictured: Nurses in the UK have been on strike. Local union members feared the RCN was pushing them towards that route, something it has denied.
The union has so far decided against re-balloting its members.
“The ballot result still stands. This was carried out robustly using an external provider and the result remains valid. We appreciate that in terms of the wider economic outlook things have changed significantly and we are determined to work with you to bring this matter to a close as soon as we can.”
Final results of the survey will be shared with RCN members during the week beginning 27 February.
“We will use the results to try and persuade the States to negotiate. This survey, whatever the result, is no guarantee that negotiation will happen.”
Members are asked if they would like the RCN to renegotiate the year one offer, the year two offer, the year three offer, pursue equal work for equal pay after these pay negotiations and if so, within either a three, four or five year timeframe.
A no vote to renegotiation would mean members wanted to accept the offer.
In the original survey sent out in December before the petition, 69% backed the year one offer, 65.3% the year two and 36.7% the year three.
A clear majority wanted to pursue equal pay within three years.
The union said it is not leading members to strike.
Pictured: Deputy Dave Mahoney is concerned about how the States' pay offer was communicated to nurses by their union.
P&R’s employer lead Deputy Dave Mahoney said: “We have been concerned for some time at how the pay offer has been communicated by the RCN to its members, which has made us very apprehensive about taking an unusual step such as imposing the pay offer, as we are unsure how such an imposition might ultimately be portrayed by the union.
“We believe the offer is very fair, recognising the hugely important contribution our employees make and balancing that against the pressures on public finances. If union members remain unwilling to accept the offer then the matter will have to be resolved with the assistance of the Industrial Disputes Officer.”
No date has been set to meet with the deputy IDO.
The same pay offer has been made to all States pay groups.
It has been accepted by everyone except teachers and Agenda for Change members. The nurses are part of the AfC grouping.
Mr Lloyd’s retirement was confirmed on the RCN Guernsey branches’ website.
“The regional team would like to say a big thank you to Kenny Lloyd, who has decided to retire as the Guernsey Pay Convener. Kenny has a wealth of knowledge and skills in employment activism and around Guernsey ways of working.
"He has been an absolute asset to the RCN in Guernsey, and we will miss him very much. We would like to wish Kenny all the best for his retirement.”
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