British nurses announce first nationwide strike in history — RT World News
Growing cost of living crisis pushes union to extreme measures
Nurses across the UK will strike this winter for the first time in their 106-year-old union’s history. As the Royal College of Nursing revealed on Wednesday, majority members of the National Health Service employers have backed the industrial action « in their fight for fair pay and safe staffing. »
“Industrial action is expected to begin before the end of this year, with more detailed plans and timelines to be announced shortly.“, said the union.
The walkout will not affect emergency services or intensive care units, but is expected to impact routine medical appointments.
Nurses are campaigning for a pay rise of 5% above retail inflation, which tops 12% amid a cost of living and energy crisis that has been exacerbated by sanctions on the Russia and dwindling Russian energy supplies to Europe.
According to an estimate by The Guardian, the average annual salary for nurses of £35,680 ($40,600) in real terms is £3,000 ($3,400) less than a decade ago, due to the inflation.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay expressed disappointment with the planned strike. He took to Twitter to recall that the government gave « over a million NHS workers a pay rise of at least £1,400 ($1,600) this year on top of a 3% increase last year. »
« But the unions’ demands for a 17.6% wage settlement are about three times what millions of people outside the public sector will typically receive and are simply not reasonable or affordable, » he added. Barclay pointed out.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, who came under fire earlier this year for sporting a £10,000 ($11,400) Rolex watch, has fueled the bitter row.
Commenting on reports that some nurses are being forced to use food banks, Keegan told Sky News such a thing normally happens when something breaks down, « either a relationship or a boiler or whatever. » She added that she does not see « any time » in a nurses’ strike.
The unions responded with fury to these remarks.
“Does Ms Keegan think we have 135,000 vacancies in the NHS due to breaks? Or is it the systematic under-remuneration of health professionals? Rachel Harrison, national secretary of the GMB union, said.
Meanwhile, teachers in Scotland, England and Wales are also considering strike action due to cost of living pressures.
The Bank of England, in its November report, describes the outlook for the UK economy as « very difficult » and predicts a prolonged recession.
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