2 October 2014
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has voted for industrial action for the first time in its 133 year history. They will join the mass NHS action between 7am and 11am on 13 October.
Midwives’ pay was frozen in 2011 and 2012, and increased by 1% in 2013 and 2014. Now a further 1% increase has been rejected by Jeremy Hunt, against the recommendations of the independent NHS pay review body.
82.2% of members voted in favour of a strike, with just 17.8% against. 94% were in favour of action short of a strike. Voter turnout was 49.4%.
Cathy Warwick, RCM chief executive, 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.”
She pointed out that midwives are today earning £4000 less than if their pay had risen inline with inflation since 2010.
Unite and Unison, who represent around 400,000 NHS staff, will also be taking part in the strike action. The four hour strike will be followed by a week of action short of a strike, e.g. staff refusing to work the unpaid overtime that they do currently.
A 1% pay rise is equivalent to 13 hours of overtime. Many midwives work at least 2 hours unpaid overtime per week.
Health staff have affirmed that the strike will not affect patient care. “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”, said Cathy Warwick.
The period of strike action will be followed by the TUC’s Britain Needs a Payrise demonstration on October 18.