UK Nurses Set To Strike Until Christmas

 

Nurses in the United Kingdom are prepared to strike until Christmas if they cannot reach a pay agreement with the government, according to the leader of the country’s main nursing union on Sunday.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will strike at the end of April and beginning of May before voting on whether to extend the strike until the end of the year, according to union leader Pat Cullen.

“If that ballot is successful it will mean further strike action right up until Christmas,” Cullen told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme.

On Friday, union members rejected a government pay offer and immediately announced a strike escalation.

Nurses in England were expected to accept a 5% pay increase negotiated by the RCN and the government in March.

However, the RCN reported that 54 percent of its members rejected the offer after it was made.

RCN members will strike for 48 hours beginning at 8:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) on April 30, with the action being extended for the first time to staff in emergency departments, intensive care units, and cancer care units.

The refusal is a setback for the government, which had hoped for an end to the crippling health-care strike, which has resulted in the cancellation of thousands of operations and appointments.

‘Hugely disappointing’

Hospital doctors below the consultant level have been on strike for four days this week, demanding better pay and working conditions.

Cullen said she received a letter from Health Secretary Steve Barclay on Sunday morning after requesting talks with him last week about the pay offer.

Members of the RCN walked out for the first time in the union’s 108-year history late last year, joining a wave of public and private sector workers demanding pay increases as inflation soared.

The government said the RCN rejection of the pay offer was “hugely disappointing” and said it was “fair and generous”.

In addition to a 5% pay increase in the coming fiscal year, the offer included a one-time bonus of at least £1,250 ($1,510) per person.

Two other healthcare unions have yet to release the results of their ballots on the offer.

Further strikes, according to healthcare executives, would have an impact on reducing already lengthy treatment waiting lists, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to reduce.

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