Nurses sent ballot papers16th July 2007
The Royal College of Nursing has sent ballot papers to nurses in England, to find out if they are willing to take industrial action over the pay staging dispute.
The government has offered nurses in England a two stage pay rise to the value of 2.5%. Nurses working in other parts of the UK will be given the full pay rise in one stage.
Peter Carter, general secretary at the RCN, said nurses were not asking for "sky-high inflation-busting increases in their pay."
The RCN polled 2,300 people about the pay-staging issue. 82% thought it was "unfair" and almost three-quarters supported the idea of industrial action.
In April the organisation said it would ballot its members if the government failed to repeal the staged pay increase. The health workers' union, Unison, has stated it will ballot its 450,000 NHS members unless the government changed its position.
Negotiators from both sides will meet on 18 July to discuss the issue.
Nurses are able to take industrial action which does not harm patient care following a policy change introduced in the mid-1990s.
Mr Carter said: "Day in, day out, nurses are there for their patients - they will be heartened to know that they can count on the general public for support at this difficult time."
The Department of Health stated that it was attempting to resolve the problem and to "maintaining the normal course of dialogue with the health service trade unions."
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