After watching a recent film taken at a political protest I wondered what takes a person to such a level of rage that they are shouting down a megaphone directly into the ear of another protester. Perhaps it’s the same passion that made me become an unlikely keyboard warrior overnight. After promising myself to ‘do no harm’ when on social media my mantra has always been ‘never post anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see’.
Up until a couple of weeks ago my social media experience consisted mostly of granny boasts; never before have I been raised to the level of joining in an online debate and becoming animated until recently, however no sooner had I started when my responses deteriorated to anger with only a few steps to go to rage and venom. My own standards of conduct were quickly breached so I knew I needed to stop, however not until I complete this because the RCN belongs to me as well and I will not be intimidated just because I hold an opposing view.
Questioning my values.
The RCN members Facebook group has driven me to question my values and beliefs about social media, this is a distorted world where less than 4% of RCN members interact and we forget that the remaining 96% have little engagement with the issues being debated that will impact on the RCN, it’s governance committees and staff. The Facebook group comprises 15,000+ members and may not even be 4% because there is no way of establishing how many are RCN members, nurses or health practitioners. Of the 15,000 people that joined this group only a small minority post on a regular basis distorting the debate in the eyes of the reader because it is not representative of the membership as a whole. A percentage of views expressed have reasoned arguments however others are negative, angry and even abusive, they do not reflect the views of the majority of members in my workplace and they do not represent me.
On 28 September I will attend the RCN EGM and hopefully carry proxy votes entrusted to me by members who have come forward to say they have confidence in RCN Council, their issues are about a pay deal that was poorly communicated by MP’s from all parties, other unions including the RCN, staff and our committees. As far as I’m concerned that’s where it ends, I believe the governance structures of the RCN and the staff that support those structures need to be debated by the wider membership rather than the few.
‘I see no benefit from removing them from office’.
I do not have any issue with my region’s council and TU members, they are experienced nurses with a wealth of trade union and nursing practice experience that I value and want to continue. I see no benefit from removing them from office, nor do I believe that anyone from a region or country outside my own should vote to sack my council member who is responsible to the members whose place of work is in this Region and who voted for them.
I represent a large number of RCN members in my workplace as an accredited rep, the support I receive from RCN staff is essential to me and I cannot praise it highly enough. When I see the rage that has been vented at our elected officers and staff by professionals on the RCN Members Facebook Group I can only say they need to check their NMC Code because many are in contravention of it.
I am sure there are 15,000+ personal opinions as to the changes required to ensure the RCN is member led and about the independent review into the RCN handling of the pay deal.
A vote of no confidence will be ‘damaging to members’.
RCN members are unhappy about a lot of things, yes they were sold a “Pup” in terms of the pay deal however so were the other unions. Many members voted for the deal because they were happy with how their pay would progress they were going to benefit and have done so. This was a divisive deal and intended to split us off from our colleagues and partner unions on staff side. This has succeeded and the RCN is on a path to a minority of members bringing a vote of no confidence which I believe will be damaging to members.
The reality for the members in my workplace is that they are concerned about pay as well as their terms and conditions, the state of the NHS and creeping privatisation. The sacking of Council and holding individual members of staff to account does not figure at all.
Please let us learn from our mistakes and not go back to the blame culture of the past. A prominent nurse leader in the 80’s Maria Manthey used to talk about the 1950s in the US; when nurses made medicines errors they had to remove their hats, let’s not return to those days.