Speaking at the RCM’s annual conference in Telford, Cathy Warwick said: “I never thought I would see the day when midwives would go on strike, and I am sad that it has come to this. But I am also angry at the way we have been treated.”
The pay offer made by the government will see many of the RCM’s members earning the same in 2016 as they were in 2013, against a backdrop of a sharply rising cost of living.
Warwick also challenged the government over its claims that a 1% award is not affordable, saying: “My response is that, firstly, it is a question of priorities, of how this country wants to spend its money.
“If there is not enough money for the NHS, that is because the government has decided to limit its budget, and to spend our money elsewhere. In other words it is a political decision rather than an economic one.
“After all, we are constantly being told by this government that the UK economy is growing faster than other advanced economies. The government could therefore increase spending on the NHS; it has simply chosen not to just as it has made a conscious decision to hold down pay.”
She added: “If there really is no money to pay midwives and other NHS staff a 1% pay rise, how come top NHS managers have been given £166 million in bonuses? And how is it that there is money to give MPs a 10% pay rise?
Warwick also accused the government of ‘deliberate misrepresentation’ over the structure of NHS pay for midwives and argued that its structure actually saves the NHS money.
“For 30 years, successive governments have abided by this covenant on pay,” she said. “We did not pick this fight; it is entirely of the government’s making”.