by Tim Lezard Midwives and maternity support worker (MSW) members of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have voted “Yes” to strike action in a dispute over pay in England. This is the first time in its 133 year history that Royal College of Midwives m …

Tim Lezard Europe, UK,

RCMby Tim Lezard

Midwives and maternity support worker (MSW) members of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have voted “Yes” to strike action in a dispute over pay in England.

This is the first time in its 133 year history that Royal College of Midwives members will have taken strike action. In the ballot midwives and MSWs also voted yes to action short of a strike. Industrial action will start on the morning of Monday, 13th October with a four-hour stoppage.

The RCM members will join Unite and UNISON members in taking action on October 13th. PCS members working in the civil service are taking action on October 14th while other public sector unions with members in local government are expected to strike on October 14th. UCATT members in the NHS will strike, but have yet to name a date. The action comes ahead of the TUC’s Britain Needs a Pay Rise demo in London on October 18th.

The result of the ballot is:

Are you prepared to take part in a strike?

YES: 82.2%

NO: 17.8%

Are you prepared to take part in action short of a strike?

YES: 94.6%

NO: 5.4%

The turnout of those eligible to vote was 49.4%.

The yes vote follows the rejection by employers of the Independent NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) recommendation of a 1% pay rise for NHS staff.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This is a resounding yes from our members. It could not send a clearer signal about the level of discontent on this issue to those denying them a very modest 1% pay increase.

“Our members have suffered three years of pay restraint and face the prospect that their pay in 2016 will only be 1% higher than it was in 2010.The recommendations from all public sector pay review bodies have been followed except those for health workers. This is not acceptable. There is still time to come back to the negotiating table and to take a more reasonable position on the PRB recommendation.

“The RCM will be meeting with employers to discuss our action and to ensure that mothers and babies are not put at any risk. I want to reassure women expecting a baby that midwives will continue to look after them and that they will be safe.”

A recent poll* showed that four-fifths (80%) of the British public say they would support a 1% pay rise for NHS staff.  The poll also showed that around two-thirds (63%) would support industrial action by midwives, as a sign of protest against the decision not to increase their salaries by 1%. This is provided that arrangements are made to ensure that any pregnant woman in need of immediate care during the period of the industrial action received care as usual.

The decision earlier this year was to ignore the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendations and instead give a 1% non-consolidated increase only to staff at the top of their incremental scale. This means only some midwives get the increase and because the award is non-consolidated it will not count towards pension entitlements or shift pay and will be wiped away at the end of March 2016 meaning wages will go back to their April 2013 level.

The RCM will be working with other unions taking similar action to coordinate activity.


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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