news ‘What a tragic day’: UK nurses strike over bitter wage dispute

  • First strike in the nursing union’s 106-year history
  • Strikes on Thursday and December 20th
  • Nurses want 5% pay increases and inflation
  • The 4-5% proposal was set by an independent body, according to the government
  • Trade unions say more strikes possible if government doesn’t discuss wages

LONDON/BELFAST (Reuters) – Nurses from the UK National Health Service (NHS) went on strike on Thursday. This was the first national strike in history during the year.

An estimated 100,000 nurses are on strike in 76 hospitals and health centers, canceling an estimated 70,000 appointments, procedures and surgeries on the UK’s national NHS.

Britain has faced a wave of labor unrest this winter, with strikes crippling rail networks and postal services and airports gearing up for Christmas chaos.

Inflation above 10% is followed by wage offers of around 4%, increasing tensions between unions and employers.

But of all the strikes, the image that stands out for many Britons this winter will be the nurses on the picket line.

“What a tragic day. This is a tragic day for nursing, a tragic day for patients, patients in hospitals like this, a tragic day for people in this society and our NHS. Pat Cullen, head of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), told the BBC at the picket line.

The widely acclaimed nursing profession has closed parts of the NHS. Since its founding in 1948, the NHS has earned national treasure status for being free at the point of use. The winter has hit an already stretched health care delivery and has a record level backlog. COVID delays.

Health Secretary Steve Berkley said it was very regrettable that the strikes were going on.

“I have worked with health officials across government and outside the public sector to ensure safe staffing, but I am concerned about the risks strikes pose to patients,” he said. .

Will there be more strikes?

The industrial action by nurses on 15th and 20th December was unprecedented in the UK Nursing Union’s 106-year history, but the RCN said workers were struggling to make a living. So he says he has no choice.

Nurses want a 5% pay rise and inflation, suffering substantial cuts for a decade, claiming low wages mean staff shortages and unsafe care for patients. The government says their demand is equivalent to her 19% hike.

The government has refused to discuss wages, which Cullen said has increased the likelihood of further strikes over the next year.

“Every time I walk into a room with the secretary of state, he says we can talk about anything but money,” she said. “It’s about keeping days like this going.”

“I think it’s important to have constructive engagement, but it has to be rational,” Barclay told reporters.

Outside St. Thomas’ Hospital in central London, Ethnea Vaughan, 50, a practice development nurse, said nurses felt they had no choice but to strike, saying that over the years the I criticized the government for ignoring the concerns of my teachers.

“Nothing has changed. I’ve been in nursing for 27 years, and I’ve only seen a steady decline in morale,” she told Reuters.

In Belfast, passing vehicles honked their horns to aid nurses gathered on the picket line in freezing temperatures outside the Royal Victoria Hospital.

“I didn’t make this decision lightly … I decided it was time to say, ‘Enough is enough,'” said Louise Mitchell, who has been a nurse for 40 years.

“We don’t want our patients to suffer any longer. In this country, patient care suffers every day of the week because the health service does not have enough resources.”

The Scottish government averted the nurses’ strike by negotiating wages. The RCN was the desired result in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, the government has said it cannot afford to pay more than the 4-5% salaries offered to nurses recommended by an independent body, and further raises would take money away from frontline services. says it means

The RCN said some treatment areas were exempt from the strike, including chemotherapy, dialysis and intensive care.

Opinion polls leading up to the nursing strike suggested that a majority of Britons supported the action.

Written by Sarah Young, with additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Andrew MacAskill.Edited by Alex Richardson

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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