RCN: Nurses union pauses strike ballot following Queen’s death



The Royal College of Nurses has paused plans to ballot members over strike action next week in light of the Queen’s death, The Rustwire has learned.

In an email to members today the RCN, which represents 465,000 members, said: “Out of respect, the NHS pay ballot due to open next week will be delayed and campaigning should pause until further notice.”

Nurses, midwives, healthcare assistances and nursing students were due to be balloted on the 15 September over whether they want to take industrial action over pay.

The action was launched after the government did not meet the RCN’s demands for a pay rise which was 5 per cent above inflation.

In order for strike action to go ahead, 54 per cent of members would have to vote for it.

The country has officially entered a 10-day mourning period, following the Queen’s death.

NHS England has also officially paused all ‘proactive’ communications until after the funeral has taken place.

Reports in Pulse magazine said a letter from NHS England chief executive to staff said exceptions would be “operation communications” needed to keep the NHS running and communications to patients.

A number of planned strikes have been called off after the Queen’s death on Thursday

(PA Archive)

In a comment responding to the Queen’s death, NHS England chief executive said: “I know I speak on behalf of the whole NHS when I say how incredibly saddened we are by the news Her Majesty The Queen has passed away.

“The Queen dedicated her life to public service and it was our proudest moment when she awarded NHS staff the George Cross earlier this year, for their compassion and courage over the last 74 years but particularly during the pandemic.

“My heartfelt condolences are with the Royal Family at this time.”

Well wishers have been leaving floral tributes at Windsor

(AFP via Getty Images)

The news follows actions by several other unions who’ve cancelled strike plans.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union were due to walk out on September 15 and 17 in a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) also called off planned strikes.

The Communication Workers Union members were due to have a 48-hour walkout on Friday in a dispute over pay and conditions but have also cancelled.

General secretary Dave Ward said: “Following the very sad news of the passing of the Queen and out of respect for her service to the country and her family, the union has decided to call off tomorrow’s planned strike action.”