The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has voted by a 95% majority to take industrial action over pay.
In an emergency debate on pay held at the union’s annual conference in Harrogate the overwhelming majority voted to take industrial action over the staged pay arrangement offered by the government. Chancellor Gordon Brown withheld the 2.5% pay reward that was recommended by the pay review body and instead give nurses 1.5% this month and a further 1% in November.
The union is demanding that the pay award is made in full across the UK without delay.
Peter Carter, general secretary of the RCN, said there will be an urgent push this week to meet with the Chancellor and health secretary Patricia Hewitt. "We will be telling them that this is not a game, it’s serious, they need to take note now," he said.
After voting to reject the staged pay, union members called for the council to decide what form of industrial action will be taken. Carter said: "The government trades on that fact that nurses won’t walk out on their patients. It’s about finding ways and approaches to make our point whilst protecting our patients."
The RCN council meets on 16 and 17 May, when it will discuss plans for industrial action.