UK: Nurses launch fresh strikes over pay
The UK's largest nursing union accuses the government of neglecting to seriously negotiate an improved wage deal for the current fiscal year.
Nurses in England started two days of strikes over pay, on Wednesday, as officials warned of disruption for thousands of patients in the UK's state-run health service.
The largest nursing union accuses the government of neglecting to seriously negotiate an improved wage deal for the current fiscal year.
The latest strike puts additional strain on the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) at a time when demand is high and treatment wait lists are long.
"It is inevitable industrial action will have an impact on patients," health minister Steve Barclay said as quoted by AFP.
Two days of strikes by nurses in England and Wales in December led to the cancellation of "around 30,000 elective procedures and outpatient appointments", Barclay said.
"Patients will understandably be worried by the prospect of further strike action by nurses," he added.
Nonetheless, the predicament of medical personnel has elicited popular sympathy, as rising food and energy prices have impacted lower-paid workers across the board. It is worth noting that a YouGov poll showed that 63 percent of respondents supported the nurses' strike.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's official spokesperson said Tuesday that it is not "the right course of action," adding "We continue to call unions to step away from the picket lines and continue with discussions."
The big picture
Matthew Taylor, the head of the NHS Confederation, which represents state health care providers in England and Wales, called on ministers to renew pay talks with trade unions.
According to the NHS Confederation, this week's nursing strikes might result in 4,500 canceled procedures and 25,000 canceled outpatient appointments.
Further strikes are scheduled for February 6 and 7 by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union, which said they will "be at the highest intensity in our history." GMB, the ambulance workers' union, is also set to announce on Wednesday that it will resume strike action.
This month, ambulance drivers and paramedics staged their second walkout in two months over salary and working conditions.
This is happening as hundreds of Britons are dying each week as the UK government struggles to get a grip on the health sector crisis amid strikes.
The deteriorating economic conditions in the UK have given rise to more protests and dissatisfaction among people, further catalyzed by soaring energy prices and inflation. Workers employed in railroad companies, post offices, airports, and lawyers have also been holding strikes.
Social dissatisfaction has grown as the UK entered a serious economic crisis earlier this year. annual inflation in the UK hit 11.1% in October. According to the Bank of England, the UK economy has entered a recession expected to last until the second half of 2024.