UK nurses vote to remove Royal College of Nursing leadership after pay deal sellout
3 October 2018
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) passed a historic no-confidence resolution against the union’s leadership by a huge majority of those voting last week. The resolution received 11,156 (78.1 percent) votes in favour, 3,124 (21.9 percent) against, with 1,112 members abstaining.
The resolution presented by Danielle Tiplady, a nurse and Labour Party activist from London, called on the RCN’s leadership Council “to stand down.” The vote was announced last Friday at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in Birmingham, which the RCN was forced to convene after more than 1,000 members signed a petition demanding it—as the implications of a sellout pay deal agreed in March became clear.
The low standing of the RCN bureaucracy was also manifest in the very low ballot turnout. Only 3.47 percent of the 435,000 members voted, with the vast majority of rank-and-file members disengaged from the union and viewing its leadership with contempt.
In a failed attempt to head off a growing rebellion, the RCN’s chief executive and general secretary, Janet Davies, stepped down in August and the Council set up “an independent external review into the processes and communication of the 2018 Pay Deal.” This is a ruse, as the leadership insisted that the pay deal would not be revisited.
In March, 13 trade unions out of 14 agreed to a derisory rise of 6.5 percent over three years, after health workers suffered a 14 percent pay cut over the last eight years under the austerity measures of Tory-led governments. The Retail Price Index inflation for the next three years is estimated at 9.6 percent, meaning the deal is in fact a cut in real wages.