Historic strike in Great Britain: about 100,000 nurses are demanding better wages and fears of chaos in hospitals

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British nurses pledged on Thursday to unprecedented strike as a ‘last resort’ achieve wage improvements in the face of the pressing cost-of-living crisis, which is causing growing social unrest in the UK.

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Up to 100,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were expected to stop work from 8am to 8pm, after turn down a government offer.

“We are with you,” headlined the left-wing newspaper The Daily Mirrorechoing the majority of Britons who, according to polls, support this first national strike in the 106 year history of the RCN, followed by another day of strike planned for 20 December.

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With banners reading ‘time to pay nurses fairly’, protests were staged outside major public hospitals, including St Thomas’s in London.

The government’s response

The Secretary of State for Health, Maria Caulfield, assured the Sky News channel that only in England approximately 70,000 medical appointments would be lost and strike operations.

“As a nurse, I woke up this morning heartbroken,” said RCN secretary general Pat Cullen, calling it “tragic” that they had to “strike the profession to make our voices heard”.

Mark Boothroyd, a 37-year-old emergency room nurse, says the high cost of living has made it difficult for them to pay bills, transport and rent.

According to Boothroyd, who works at St Thomas’ Hospital, low pay means newly qualified nurses spend only a year or two before leaving the profession.

Their vacancies go unfilled, putting the remaining staff under enormous pressure and drowning in stress.

According to the RCN, there are 47,000 unfilled nursing positions in England, in part for “bad pay”.

Many nurses – the majority – and European nurses, led by the Spaniards, left the UK in the wake of Brexitwhich ended the system that allowed them to count their British experience in their home countries.

British public health officials said in September that some nurses had started skip meals to feed and clothe your children.

And one in four hospitals in England have set up food banks for their staff.

The RCN reports it the salary of a nurse it has fallen 20% in real terms since 2010due to several years of rises below inflation, which this November was 10.7%, one of the highest levels in four decades.

The strike comes as Britain’s revered National Health Service (NHS) it has been plagued for years insufficient funding. Added to this since the beginning of the pandemic are the long lists of patients waiting to undergo medical tests, including those related to cancer.

Health officials have warned unions that care could be affected by the strike, at a time when seasonal respiratory conditions, such as the flu, add pressure to already overcrowded hospitals.

wave of strikes

Despite its exceptional nature, the RCN strike is part of a growing wave of strikes by workers in various activities in the public and private sectors, from railway workers to customs police, via the postal service or teachers.

But the Executive Branch led by conservative Rishi Sunak says the salary demands of nurses, who seek to recover purchasing power, cannot be financed with some meager public coffers after the pandemic.

“Our nurses are incredibly dedicated to their work and it is really a shame that some union members are going through with the strike,” said Health Minister Steve Barclay.

The official said he had been negotiating “with health personnel outside the public sector to ensure safe staffing levels” and expressed “concern about the risk that strikes pose to patients“.

“These are challenging times, but we have fully accepted the recommendations of the NHS independent pay review body to give nurses a pay rise of at least £1,400,” she said, stressing she could do no more.

Source: AFP

B. C

Source: Clarin

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