United Kingdom, nurses on strike demanding 17% pay rise: first stop in over a century

United Kingdom, nurses on strike demanding 17% pay rise: first stop in over a century

London – Thousands of nurses are going on strike in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland today for two days of unrest, which will be repeated on 20 December. This is a historic and sensational protest, a first in the 106-year history of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) association. This is a tremendous blow to the British public health “NHS”, one of the oldest in the world, a European model for decades, but which today is facing a crisis due to personnel shortages (especially from the EU after Brexit). is in serious trouble. ), missed funds and long waiting lists after the Covid emergency. Hospital workers, who have been called “national heroes” on several occasions by the British government during the Covid emergency, demanded an average of 17 to 19% more in their salaries, with many reports even rationing food during the lockdown. His salary, adjusted for inflation, is practically back to 2008 levels.

The government responds with a stern face, even as it tried to avoid a strike till the last minute. “A wage increase of around 20% is not acceptable”, according to health minister Steven Barclay, “given the many economic pressures to come in the coming months”. Speaking at a rally outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London this morning, RCN Union secretary Pat Cullen said that today was “a sad day for nurses, and a sad day for patients as well”. The nurses left on duty practically only work in emergency rooms, urgent care, chemotherapy, dialysis and are meant for very critical patients.While regular services have been suspended and will be the same next Tuesday.

inconvenience to passengers

But the nurses’ work on the shields is just the tip of the iceberg of strikes from here until early 2023. London’s bus drivers went on strike last Friday. Scottish teachers on Saturdays and Royal Mail postmen, who did the same on Sundays. On Monday and Tuesday, Avanti West Coast Company railroad workers stopped. Also the day before yesterday, railway workers from the Rmt (Rail, Maritime and Transport Employees) union crossed arms nationally, as they did yesterday, and they will do so again tomorrow and on 17 December. In addition to nurses, engineers from the railway company “Great Western Railway” will stop on the 20th, and London bus drivers will stop for the next two days.

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Not only Tomorrow Eurostars security staff will go on strike and they will do the same on the 18th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th. end here? No, even tomorrow, Heathrow’s baggage handlers will stay at the airport’s Terminals 2, 3 and 4 for three days: the airlines most affected except British Airways, which operates at Terminal 5. On the 21st, even ambulance drivers in England and Wales will be largely replaced by Her Majesty’s troops, while on the 23rd postmen will return to movement for 48 hours and border agents at British airports will be free from work. in their case for a good eight days, practically until New Year’s Eve. And finally, from Christmas till the first day of 2023 train strike will start again in various companies and union representatives.

No, this is not a joke. It is a sad Christmas of hardships, upheavals and constant inconveniences that will have to be endured by the British as well as friends, relatives and tourists who wish to travel across the Channel. Interior Minister Suella Braverman said a few days ago: “Think twice before you go on a holiday trip”. Because by now we have reached a total tussle between a government that is trying to bring down the final wretchedness of former prime minister Liz Truss and the unions who are demanding more money for workers, 11 Weakened by % inflation (never like this for 45 years), energy crisis and insufficient wages.

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The problem is that it will be nearly impossible to reach an agreement given the distance between the parties found in the various talks. And in some cases, for example the railway strike, it is still too late to fix it and Christmas is practically gone. Because train companies have already taken precautions and have reduced their schedules significantly in the next three weeks. Strike or no strike.

railway workers fight

Apart from the nurses, the fight of the railway workers is equally exemplary to understand what is happening in the United Kingdom. The most famous trade unionist is Mick Lynch, 60, secretary of the “National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers”. With her charisma, Lynch has rekindled struggles on the left, filling the agitational void left by former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn after his defeat in the December 2019 elections against Boris Johnson. To the tabloids, he is “The Scrooge”, the gruff character who spoils Christmas. For others, he is the new union leader who embodies the workers’ concerns and demands. It was their union that turned down the company’s latest offer of a 9% pay raise over two years for employees and zero guaranteed layoffs by 2026.

So the government is holding the match in hand and is trying by hook or by crook to resolve the situation. This December is now over, but it is possible that as early as January Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will introduce a law in Parliament to limit the right to strike to important categories of British society, like police officers and prison guards , which are even forbidden. Aspects such as guaranteeing minimum services even during days of unrest, increasing the threshold required on union ballots, and doubling the notice days are being studied. In the meantime, the army also blew it up in the newspapers. Who may not go on strike, but they too will see Christmas ruined as they are called upon to replace the “rebels” of public health.

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In fact, this situation can even play into the fad. In other words, labeling strikers as destroyers of Christmas and daily life in the face of public opinion is already compounded by the cost of lives. Furthermore, Sir Keir Starmer’s new Labor Party is on the defensive on the issue, as it accuses the government of failing to reach a deal with workers, but at the same time, unlike its predecessor Corbyn, it is not an endorsement. Does Forbids its members to strike and even participate in public opinion in order to appear as a genuine moderate party. Even polls are difficult to analyse: if the majority of the population supports a nurses’ strike on Christmas, it does not for railway workers.

In any case, the seventies and eighties are easy to compare. According to the Office for National Statistics, in December 2022, it is predicted that one million working days will be lost due to strikes, which will be the peak since 1989. But it was 11.7 million days in September 1979 and 3.1 million in October 1984, to refer to the peaks at that time. However, some unions have started talking about a forbidden general strike, which happened only once in British history in 1926, and which is now theoretically prohibited by law. But this is the Zeitgeist. At least, as Sam Broadbeck wrote in the Telegraph, “given the pitiable state of services in this country, we might not even care about strikes”.

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