Are midwives striking? Royal College of Midwives strike action in UK and dates - explained
The union said it will now look at the result of the ballot and consider the next steps
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But where will midwives strike and when? Here’s what you need to know.
Are midwives going on strike?
Midwives in Wales have voted for strike action over a "disappointing and unacceptable" pay award worth around 4% this year. In Wales, 55% of Royal College of Midwives (RCM) members responded to the ballot, with 91% voting in favour of strike action.
But action in England will not go ahead after the numbers taking part in the ballot fell short of the 50% needed. In England, the RCM said 47% of its 28,500 members voted in the ballot and of those that did take part, 88% voted in favour of strike action.
The RCM said the ballot result laid bare the “flaws“ in the law around industrial action, which places a double threshold on union members, one around turnout, which must be 50% of those eligible, and another around those voting for industrial action, which is 40%. RCM passed the second threshold - with 94.12% of eligible members voting for industrial action - but because the turnout was just under 50%, no action can be taken in England.
The RCM said pay is the focus of the dispute but warned its members were “deeply concerned“ about rising demands in maternity services coupled with dwindling resources. Julie Richards, director for Wales at the RCM, said midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) in Wales were “exhausted”.
She added: “The disappointing and unacceptable 4% pay offer simply reinforced their feelings of being overlooked and undervalued. Taking industrial action is always a last resort, and the decision taken by our members today shows just how desperate they are for policy makers to listen. The Welsh government must now do so to get maternity services in Wales back on track and to stop the inevitable exodus of demoralised staff.”
Ms Richards said the vote is a sign “of the growing crisis in maternity services” and that “we need to see more urgent action to tackle the issues it raised and to implement the solutions it put forward”.
“Our members have not come to this decision lightly, indeed they will have taken it with very heavy hearts,” she added.
A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: "We are unable to increase our pay offer without additional funding being made available by the UK government. NHS Wales organisations are exploring all options to ensure there will be a safe level of staffing, with life-saving and life-maintaining care being provided during any industrial action."
The RCM is now consulting with Scotland members on whether to accept or reject the latest pay offer there. In Northern Ireland, the 4% pay award for midwives is to be implemented.
When will the strikes take place?
No dates have been announced yet. Any decision to take industrial action must be approved by the RCM’s elected board. The union said it will now look at the result of the ballot and consider the next steps.
The ballot results come as physiotherapists in England and Wales have also voted to strike in their first ever ballot on pay. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) said 54% of its members voted in the ballot and of these, 84% voted yes to strike action and 93% yes to action short of strike.
For England, turnout was 53%, with 84% voting yes to strike action and 92% yes to action short of strike. In Wales, turnout was 63%, with 89% voting yes to strike action and 94% yes to action short of strike.
Physiotherapists in 112 organisations in England and in every health board in Wales now have a mandate for strike action and will begin the process of planning for industrial action early in the new year.