Are Student Nurses Allowed To Strike? Biggest NHS Strikes Are Over Pay
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Are Student Nurses Allowed To Strike? Biggest NHS Strikes Take Place Over Pay

Jasmyne Jeffery December 15, 2022

Today, (December 15), nurses in the UK begin the first of two-day-long strikes over pay and working conditions. With many students training in the profession, are student nurses allowed to strike as well?

Nurses across the UK are going on strike today over unfair pay. It promises to be the biggest strike in NHS history and whilst most life-preserving and urgent care is still being done, routine procedures will undoubtedly face disruption.

These are amongst a whole range of strikes in December 2022, with Royal Mail, ambulance workers and rail workers striking across the month too.

How Much Are Nurses Paid?

The Royal College of Nursing wants a 19 per cent pay rise as the current climate is making attracting new nurses very difficult.

The starting salary for a nurse is £27,000 per year in the UK. However, other healthcare staff such as porters, cleaners and healthcare assistants get much less.

Nurses who then have 4 years of experience but, who are still band 5, would be expecting to earn around £33,000 per year, with specialist nurses getting up to £47,000. Senior nurse consultants would be looking at a figure of up to £55,000.

Therefore, the band 5 nurses on a starting wage are now looking to be paid just over £32,000 with the 19 per cent pay rise.

Why Are Nurses Striking?

Nurses are striking because they are understaffed and underpaid. Many are saying that they will not be able to continue with the job because of how exhausting and unfairly paid it has become.

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Many nurses have spoken to the BBC. Some spoke about being the only nursing member of staff at night and being worried about the future of their careers.

Although many nurses will tell you that they definitely don’t do the profession for the money, they still need to pay the bills.

Are Student Nurses Allowed To Strike?

Student nurses are just starting off in their careers, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not concerned about their future.

To be allowed to formally strike, you must be employed by the NHS and rostered to work on the day of a strike. If you are about to be employed or on a training placement then you are not allowed to strike. Nurses are only allowed to formally strike if they are members of a union such as RCN.

The RCN has the following on their site:

“You will be able to strike if you are:

  • an RCN student member or apprentice and
  • directly employed by an NHS employer and
  • on Agenda for Change terms and conditions.

This may include bank contracts. However, please check your bank contract. You must be employed by an NHS employer on Agenda for Change terms and conditions, and not an internal pay or bank system that differs from the NHS terms and conditions.”

It’s very unlikely that students on placements or not in practical study will be part of a union. Therefore they will not be allowed to strike.

However, there are other ways to support and stand in solidarity with the nurses who can. Although you cannot join the official picket line, you can provide food and drink for the nurses. If you can’t do that, then even just speaking outwardly about your support for nurses and striking helps.

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Jasmyne Jeffery is a full-time Entertainment and News Writer on university-themed website Freshered and HITC, and joined the company having previously worked in a freelance role. She attended the University of South Wales where she was also a student blogger and graduated in 2022 with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing. Now, she puts her creativity to use reviewing university bars, Love Island episodes and the latest apps any 18-25-year-old is using.