Today marks the start of 18 days of balloting for the Royal College of Nursing, to see whether its members working in Guernsey want to go on strike.
Nurses are taking part in the ballot after months of negotiating with the States to try and have their wages put up. All of the talks appear to have broken down.
The RCN applied to its UK governing bodies for permission to turn to industrial action toward the end of last year. The union has since been given the green light, and is now set to have its members vote, giving them the final say.
Members in Guernsey and Alderney who are eligible to vote will be able to have their say via the postal ballot as to whether or not they wish to undertake industrial action: if the response is “yes” then action will take place.
When the plans for today's ballot were announced, the RCN's Regional Director Patricia Marquis said it was not too late, and its door still remained open for the States to come and talk. But the States have previously said their deal was more than what the RCN had initially asked for, and urged the union to reconsider its rejection.
Pictured: Nurses have been protesting and demonstrating for months and months, trying to get their voices heard in a fight for equal pay.
It was also revealed the ballot is running alongside the next stage in the process of dealing with a pay dispute - which is clearly enshrined in Guernsey's law. This has seen the Independent Industrial Disputes Officer move the mater to a dispute tribunal, which will itself come to a resolution. The RCN said it would remain involved in this process alongside other nursing unions, but would not delay its ballot either.
December last year was the first time the RCN had ever held a strike, when its members took industrial action in Northern Ireland over a similar pay dispute.
Ms Marquis said she hoped members would use this "once in a lifetime opportunity" to have a say.
Pictured top: The ballot is being run by the Electoral Reform Service from 10 February until 28.
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