Midwives back strike action for first time in history

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Midwives in England have voted to go on strike in a bitter dispute with the Government over pay.

Members of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) backed walkouts by 82 per cent, and other forms of industrial action by 94 per cent.

Midwives will join other health workers by going on strike for four hours on October 13.

It was the first time the college balloted for industrial action, and it will be the first time in its 133 year history that members will go on strike.

The action is in protest at the Government’s controversial decision not to pay all NHS staff a one per cent pay rise, as recommended by the independent Pay Review Body.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said: “This is a resounding ‘yes’ from our members. It could not send a clearer signal about the level of discontent on this issue to those denying them a very modest one per cent pay increase.

“Our members have suffered three years of pay restraint and face the prospect that their pay in 2016 will only be one per cent higher than it was in 2010. The recommendations from all public sector pay review bodies have been followed except those for health workers. This is not acceptable.

“There is still time to come back to the negotiating table and to take a more reasonable position on the PRB recommendation.

“The RCM will be meeting with employers to discuss our action and to ensure that mothers and babies are not put at any risk. I want to reassure women expecting a baby that midwives will continue to look after them and that they will be safe.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “We are disappointed that RCM is planning industrial action and has rejected our proposals to give NHS staff at least one per cent additional pay this year and at least a further one per cent next year.

“NHS staff are our greatest asset, and we’ve increased the NHS budget to pay for thousands more clinical staff since 2010, including more than 1,700 more midwives since May 2010. We want to protect these increases and cannot afford a pay rise on top of increments – which disproportionately reward the highest earners – without risking frontline jobs.”