The Royal College of Nursing is offering its members training on workplace campaigning ahead of possible industrial action over the government’s 1% pay proposal.
The college is providing funding for members to undergo a six-week online training programme led by Jane McAlevey, an expert in union organising from the US.
“Our members are determined to be ready for all eventualities this summer”
The training will be rolled out to 1,000 members initially with ambitions to train 25,000 organisers by 2022.
The move comes as the RCN prepares to launch a ballot later this year on industrial action if the government goes ahead with plans for a 1% pay rise for NHS nurses in England for 2021-22.
The college – which is calling for a 12.5% pay increase for its members – has also set aside a £35m fund to compensate nurses for loss of earnings in the event of industrial action over pay.
The NHS Pay Review Body is currently considering the evidence on nurse pay and is due to make its recommendation at the end of May after which time the government will make a final decision.
RCN chief executive and general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: “Our members are determined to be ready for all eventualities this summer.
“If politicians chose to ignore the need for a pay rise for NHS staff, this training will increase our capacity to organise, mobilise and use the power we have.”
“The government must listen to the anger from nurses”
Polling carried out by Savanta:ComRes for the RCN found the public was currently split over the idea of nurses going on strike.
The research showed that 50% of people surveyed supported nursing staff taking industrial action if the government confirmed the NHS pay award at 1%.
Dave Dawes, chair of RCN Council, said the training was the next step to getting members “ballot ready”.
“The government must listen to the anger from nurses, the anger from the public and the anger of MPs,” he added.
The training is part of the RCN’s development of a new “organising” model under which it plans to support more members to get active and campaign on issues that matter to them such as pay, professional standards, safe staffing, employments rights and workplace safety.
The Organising for Change initiative carries a slogan of “engage, educate, empower”.