UK nurses will strike again

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Tens of thousands of nurses in the UK have announced that they hit next month. This action will be the third in recent months. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has already come under pressure over crippling disruption to key services caused by the industrial action.

Earlier this week, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) told its members to English and Wales will strike for 12 hours respectively on February 6 and 7, 2023. This measure will be breached if no progress is made by the end of January 2023 in wage negotiations with the government.

“Instead of negotiating, Rishi Sunak has chosen another strike,” RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen said in London on Monday, January 16, 2023.

“My peace sign to the government – asking them to meet me halfway and start negotiations – is still there. They have to take it,” he added.

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A woman walks past a newly created mural of nurses in Manchester, England on November 5, 2020. The UK entered a month-long lockdown from Thursday (5/11) to contain the re-emergence of coronavirus transmission. (Xinhua/Jon Super)

Nurses in the UK have already protested in mid-December. It was the MRC’s first national strike. Then the nurses went on strike on Wednesday and Thursday January 19, 2023.

Nurses ended their strike as the state-run National Health Service (NHS) came under immense pressure. Millions of patients are on the waiting list for hospital care and emergency departments cannot see patients immediately. Paramedics are also launching their own industrial wage action.

More broadly, hundreds of thousands of workers across the UK – from railway workers to postal staff and teachers – have been on strike since last summer. They also pointed to the inability to keep up with wage increases to cope with double-digit inflation.

The RCN says salaries for experienced nurses are 20% lower in real terms due to under-inflation of pay rises since 2010. This has forced many nurses to resign and contribute to record NHS vacancies.

Government ministers’ talks with union leaders have so far failed to end the strike. The UK Department of Health earlier said the initial fee for nurses would be 19% for an increase wages – unaffordable in the current economic climate. RCN subsequently indicated its willingness to compromise with these demands.


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Polly Ferguson

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