‘I will continue asking nursing staff to take strike action!’ – RCN leader responds to Truss ‘victory’

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RCN members marching on the TUC demonstration to Parliament on June 18th

THE ROYAL College of Nursing has responded to the announcement of the new Prime Minister, Truss.

RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive, Pat Cullen, said: ‘After many weeks of high rhetoric and headline-grabbing claims, the new Prime Minister must demonstrate to the millions of people in the UK’s health and care workforce that not only is she listening but also delivering.

‘Decisive political action to help them at home and at work has never before been required with such urgency.

‘With many of the ills in our health and care services caused by political negligence, they can be addressed by swift political attention too.

‘As the representative of half a million nursing staff she will hear directly from me on our expectations and support for a world-class system.

‘Her stewardship of a knife-edge NHS and care system will be a key way that the public will now judge Liz Truss.

‘She must begin by accepting that safe numbers of staff are needed immediately to stand the best chance of reducing waiting lists, giving appointments and quite literally saving lives.

‘In ten days from now, we will post ballot papers to 300,000 nursing staff across the UK.

‘After many years of underinvestment, they are standing up for patients and themselves.

‘Until the new prime minister puts forward a fair and adequate proposal, I will continue in asking nursing staff to take strike action.’

Earlier, Sir Graham Brady had given some numbers on the margin of Truss’s victory over Rishi Sunak.

He said Truss won 81,326 votes compared to Sunak’s share of 60,399 votes, adding there was a turnout of 82.6%.

Truss had been expected to win by a larger majority!

Meanwhile, the Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham commented: ‘Liz Truss will not solve the cost-of-living crisis by attacking trade unions and making it even easier for bad bosses to do as they please.

‘At a time when we face a national pay cut, the Prime Minister should be taking on the corporate profiteers that are pushing up prices, not workers fighting to stand still.

‘Attempts to place effective industrial action outside of the law are a direct assault on the democratic rights of the British people and will be met with fierce, prolonged resistance.’

Commenting on Truss’s election, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said that she ‘inherits a whole set of challenges in need of urgent attention.

‘The cost-of-living crisis affects every citizen, every public service, every business. To survive this period will require significant governmental support and swift action.

‘Teacher pay, support staff pay and school funding are all live issues, with the government’s current pay deal falling far short of what is required.

‘Whoever ends up with the education brief must look again at the case for a fully-funded pay rise which at least matches inflation.

‘The current 5% deal for teachers and 8% for support staff adds up to a further pay cut, on top of more than a decade of real-terms cuts to pay.

‘Teacher recruitment and retention has been in a parlous state for some time, and this must be arrested urgently if we are to protect education services into the future.

‘School funding has been similarly depressed in recent years, with the costs of running a school continuing to rise. Austerity then Covid were tests of resilience, and the energy crisis is the latest. Government cannot expect schools to make ends meet forever.

‘Children and young people are suffering as a result of the government’s decision not to invest in and prioritise education recovery. They should no longer be an after-thought, nor bear the brunt, and we urge the new Prime Minister to shield children during the cost-of-living crisis and to take urgent steps to end child poverty.

‘The general public will see through any attempt by Liz Truss to disassociate herself from twelve years of Conservative mismanagement.

‘She served under David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, and must carry that collective responsibility with her.

‘Some positive change in direction to the benefit of the education system will be welcome.’