The island’s nurses have continued their protests over fair pay and safer staffing levels on a campaign bus tour.
Wednesday saw 40 off-duty Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members travel to Ramsey, Peel and Castletown on a ‘fair pay for Manx nurses campaign bus’, protesting at each market square.
It comes after the RCN said it was upping campaigns and demonstrations and planning further industrial action in hope that it will bring much needed attention to the issues to both the Manx public and government members.
RCN members have so far marched in protest and held a 12 hour strike action as they’re unhappy with the most recent pay offer (May 2023), which was a £1,000 consolidated payment for the year 2022-23 in addition to the 6% already awarded in November 2022.
Since then Manx Care has said it does not have the funding available to offer an enhanced deal, as it has exhausted its funding pot.
The RCN has confirmed that there will be further industrial action in the coming weeks.
Whilst their is no date confirmed, it will be a 24-hour walk out rather than the 12-hour action last month.
It has also warned government of a possible 48-hour strike in October.
Following the strike action last month the RCN accused the government of ‘pitching public sector workers against each other’ after it announced every police officer in the island would receive an extra £3,000 in their pay packets on July 18, the same day as the nurses’ protest march.
They also expressed their disappointment and surprise at the lack of response from government following the strike, with no MHKs attending the 12-hour picket line.
However MHKs David Ashford and Clare Barber were both at Noble’s Hospital at the demonstration before the nurses set off on their island-wide campaign.
Clare Barber, MHK for Douglas East, said it was important that members of the government attend these protests and discuss the struggles the nurses are facing.
She said: ‘I can assure people that just because MHKs can’t come down and be where the strike is it doesn’t mean they’re not listening from my experience.
‘We’re having the conversations in Tynwald, across the House of Keys and certainly in the Council of Ministers.’
Mrs Barber, a nurse who previously worked at Noble’s Hospital, was asked when she thinks the pay dispute will be resolved, which she said: ‘I can’t say, ultimately there is a budget that needs to be balanced and I can recognise the challenges around safe staffing and challenges around the pay, but also we have a whole host of different contracts that we have across government and a number of different disputes over pay, and a number of areas we’re still in negotiations.
‘Ultimately we’ve got to work with a relatively fixed budget, some prices have gone up we certainly know that and we certainly know the rise in cost of living through inflation.
‘What we haven’t seen though is taxes rise with inflation and that ultimately is where the majority of money comes in so we have to do some very careful management and I think I’m in a reasonably privileged position to be able to see both sides of the picture very clearly.
‘We need to find a way in which we can protect nursing for the future, because having worked as a nurse and still being an active nurse who’s going through revalidation at the moment, I’m well aware of the challenges there are when you’re on a ward or in an area that is under staffed, and you’re feeling that pressure knowing patients safety could be at risk.’
Julia Bell, a mental health community nurse at Noble’s Hospital, said: ‘It’s really promising that we’ve got some government ministers down who are backing us and they can see that this isn’t just about a pay rise, it’s about making nursing better for patients.’
The dates for the upcoming industrial action are yet to be released.