Fair Pay for Nursing: Take action today

Scotland map alt

NHS pay in Scotland

The RCN indicative ballot on industrial action is now open. It will close at 12 noon on Monday 8 November.

RCN members working in NHS Scotland who are on Agenda for Change terms and conditions will be receiving information on how to take part in the indicative ballot.

Read more

You can also find out more in our FAQs (see below).

To help make sure RCN members stay informed about the indicative ballot and our Fair Pay For Nursing campaign, check your membership details are up to date. This includes workplace, employer and preferred contact email address and phone number.

Visit MyRCN and update your details now. 

Campaign materials

Use these resources to help spread the word about the indicative ballot and talk to other members.

Download our Scotland campaign poster

Download our campaign leaflet

Download our campaign business card

Order campaign materials

Fair pay for nurses

Information sessions on indicative ballot

Find events in your area to get answers to your questions about the RCN's indicative ballot on pay.
people on a picket line

Industrial Action Handbook

The handbook covers industrial action from start to finish, outlining how it begins to how it is resolved.

RCN campaigning app

The RCN campaigning app provides easy access to information, actions and the latest news related to the RCN’s campaigning priorities.

Visit our campaigning website for more information and to download the app. You can also watch videos showing how to add the app to your Android device or iPhone.

Read our latest blogs 

Organising for Change

Have you considered joining in our Organising for Change training and development programme? Find out more about how this new model can help you influence for change in your workplace. 

What's next for NHS pay

Find out about the latest updates in all four countries of the UK, including indicative ballots in England and Scotland.

RCN Scotland indicative ballot on industrial action - Q&A session for members

Frequently asked questions

The result of the indicative ballot will not formally authorise industrial action - it will be used to inform the next steps RCN members take. The RCN appreciates that members will have concerns around your professional registration, your employment and patient safety should you chose to take industrial action in the future. The RCN Industrial Action Handbook provides a comprehensive guide to industrial action, what it involves, how it is initiated and organised for RCN members, including protecting patient safety. The following frequently asked questions include information from the handbook as well as answers to additional questions about the indicative ballot. 

An indicative ballot asks members whether they personally would be willing, in principle, to take any form of industrial action. This ballot does not provide grounds to take industrial action. It is a way to understand how many members may be willing to take a form of industrial action. If enough members say they are willing to participate in some form of industrial action a statutory ballot may be the next step. A statutory ballot is a legal requirement before industrial action can take place. There are strict thresholds that need to be met – in Scotland, 50% of all members eligible to vote must turn out and vote and, if the majority of members are engaged in important public services, then 40% of all members eligible to vote must vote in favour of industrial action. If the majority of members are not engaged in important public services then a simple majority will suffice. 

Only RCN Scotland members employed in NHS Scotland on NHS Agenda for Change terms and conditions are eligible to vote in the indicative ballot. 

The RCN’s indicative ballot will be held from Tuesday 12 October until 12 midday on Monday 8 November.  

The indicative ballot will be administered by Civica, an independent organisation. Members eligible to take part in the ballot will receive an email from Civica, branded CES, from the email address rcn@cesvotes.com. The email will contain a link to the voting website and information about the different forms of industrial action to help you make your choice. This link will be unique to you and should not be forwarded on to anyone else. The email from Civica will be sent out on 12 October – remember to check your spam or junk mail folders.  Reminder emails will be sent throughout the voting period.

Members who do not have an email address on their member record will be sent a letter with details of how to access the voting website. 

If you believe you are eligible but have not received an email or letter please contact RCN Direct on 0345 772 6100. 

If you have issues accessing the voting website or lose your email or letter please contact Civica on 020 8889 9203 or reply to the email address (rcn@cesvotes.comfrom which the voting email comes. Remember to check your email spam and junk folders in in case the message has been directed there by your system. 

You are being asked to indicate if you would be willing to take industrial action short of strike or strike action. You are also being asked to indicate if you would be willing to support others participating in industrial action even if you are not willing to participate in industrial action yourself.  

There is no definition of action short of a strike but generally, it means working strictly to the terms of your contract of employment often referred to as ‘working to rule’. This can include taking all your contractual breaks and/or starting/finishing your shifts strictly on time and or/refusing to undertake paid or unpaid overtime. By working to rule, you are withdrawing the goodwill that your employer often relies on to carry out its business effectively. Therefore, action short of strike action can result in a disruption to an employer’s business if carried out by most of the workforce. This may place pressure on an employer or government to reconsider its position in any industrial or trade dispute. 

Strike action involves a complete withdrawal of labour from the workplace. This could be for half a day, a day or longer depending on the dispute. Strike action will almost certainly result in a disruption to an employer’s business and place greater pressure on an employer or government to reconsider its position in any dispute. Industrial action is a powerful weapon as your labour is NHS Scotland’s most valuable asset. 

RCN student members who are directly employed by NHS Scotland on Agenda for Change terms and conditions, are eligible to vote in the current indicative ballot on industrial action. To ensure you are included, you must tell us your workplace and employer so that we can confirm you are eligible and then get the ballot sent to you.

Please fill in your name, employer and workplace details on this form or phone RCN Direct on 0345 772 6100. It is important to include as much information about your workplace and employer as possible.  

If you are not directly employed by the NHS on Agenda for Change terms and conditions, please help spread the word about the consultation and encourage colleagues to participate.

The RCN Scotland Board need to understand the strength of feeling from members regarding your pay and the impact this has on retention, recruitment and, ultimately, safe staffing levels. The response from members will inform the next steps.  

If there is significant support for industrial action, the RCN Scotland Board will consider proceeding to a statutory ballot. Industrial action is always a last resort. The Scottish government have had many opportunities to do the right thing by nursing. If the outcome does not indicate sufficient support from members for industrial action the RCN Scotland Board will consider how best to progress the Fair Pay for Nursing Campaign in other ways. 

The Scottish government’s single-year pay offer to NHS staff for 2021-22 relates to all staff on Agenda for Change terms and conditions employed by the NHS in Scotland. You can find more information about what this means for you in the Scottish government pay award letter. You  can also email your questions to the RCN at PayCampaignScotland@rcn.org.uk

The RCN remains in a trade dispute with the Scottish government and NHS employers over pay during this period. A trade dispute is a dispute between an employer (or government minister) and workers in connection with their terms and conditions. The RCN has lodged the trade dispute following the Scottish government’s decision to implement the single-year NHS pay offer for 2021-22 for NHS staff on Agenda for Change terms and conditions without engaging in further discussions about RCN members’ rejection of the pay offer in a consultative ballot in May. We had a good response to the ballot and have a significant mandate from our members. More than two thirds of RCN members in Scotland who responded voted to reject. 

This means that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) considers it is now in a formal trade dispute with the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland Employers in accordance with s.244 Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. The dispute relates to pay, which is fundamental to our members’ terms and conditions. It is also fundamental to ensuring that Scotland has the nursing workforce it needs to provide safe and effective patient care. The lodging of the trade dispute does not commit the RCN to any future action and RCN members will decide what happens if no acceptable outcome is achieved.

The pay award and trade dispute only apply to staff with Agenda for Change terms and conditions. The RCN’s position remains that registered nurses and nursing support workers employed in the independent sector should be paid at least the same as their counterparts in the NHS. We anticipate that improvements in NHS pay will have a positive effect on pay in other sectors. 

Page last updated - 22/10/2021