UK hit by fresh round of strikes by health workers

Health workers in the United Kingdom (UK) staged fresh walkouts on Monday and Tuesday over pay and conditions, after unions rejected the government’s pay offer last month.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) began the strike at 8 p.m. Sunday, and the action will continue until midnight on Monday. It is the third round of strikes by RCN nurses this year, amid the UK’s raging cost-of-living crisis.

However, this is the first strike with no national derogations, meaning that “nursing staff working in emergency departments, intensive care units, cancer care and other services that were previously exempt,” are taking part, according to the RCN.

Nevertheless, the RCN agreed on Sunday to accept some exemptions, to maintain essential services in the National Health Service (NHS).

The strike action was originally planned to last until Tuesday evening, but under a High Court decision it was cut short by one day.

Ambulance workers also went on strike on Monday and Tuesday in areas including London, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Birmingham, represented by the trade union Unite.

In mid-March, the UK government offered health workers a five percent pay rise for 2023-24, and a one-off bonus to top up last year’s salary.

However, both RCN and Unite members voted to reject the offer in April, and decided to continue their industrial action.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, said the pay offer was not enough considering that the inflation rate in the UK remains in double-digits.

RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen urged ministers to reopen formal discussions as “nursing staff are looking for a fair settlement that shows the government values and understands their profession.”


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