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BREAKING NEWS: UK nurses have voted to strike for the first time in 106 years

UK nurses who are members of the Royal College of Nursing have voted to go on strike, the first time in 106 years in what will be a huge blow for the government’s attempts to deal with waiting lists. 

The strike announced by the union on Wednesday, November 9 follows the resounding rejection of the wage increases “forced” on nurses following two tough years dealing with the pandemic.

The strike will cover almost all NHS hospitals with one or two narrowly missing the turnout needed to make the vote legal.

RCN general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen said in a statement: “Anger has become action – our members are saying enough is enough.

“The voice of nursing in the UK is strong and I will make sure it is heard. Our members will no longer tolerate a financial knife edge at home and a raw deal at work.

“Ministers must look in the mirror and ask how long they will put nursing staff through this.

“While we plan our strike action, next week’s budget is the UK government’s opportunity to signal a new direction with serious investment. Across the country, politicians have the power to stop this now and at any point.

“Standards are falling too low and we have strong public backing for our campaign to raise them. This winter, we are asking the public to show nursing staff you are with us.”

The union said that its 300,000 members deserved more respect from the government and called for a pay increase of five per cent above the current inflation rate.

An analysis conducted by Sky News shows that an experienced nurse’s salary had fallen in real terms by at least 20 per cent over the last two to 12 years. Effectively that means they are now work one day a week for no pay.

Steve Barclay, the Health and Social Care Secretary, said the government “hugely values the work that nurses do.” He added that they had already committed to raising their wages in line with recommendations from the independent pay review body.

He continued saying that the government had recognised their contribution by increasing their pay by three per cent more than other public sector workers.

Referring to the much-publicised hole in government finances, Barclays said: “We also need to recognise that these are economically challenging times.

“We need a strong economy in order to pay for a strong health care system and a demand of 17 per cent – three times what most non-public sector workers will receive – is out of step with the economic circumstances that we face.”

He finished by saying that his “door is open” for talks and looked forward to meeting the union “in the days ahead.”

“We urge government to listen to the concerns of frontline health staff and deliver the investment that the NHS and its workforce so desperately need.”

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “A strike across the NHS this winter isn’t inevitable.

“Unions want to work with ministers to solve the NHS staffing crisis and its impact on patient care. But that must start with another pay rise for health workers. Otherwise, delays and waits for patients won’t reduce.”

UNISON and other unions will be balloting health workers in other unions, including ambulance staff, hospital porters and cleaners in the coming weeks.

If they do vote to strike, they will join UK nurses who have voted to do so for the first time in 106 years.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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