West News Wire: The National Health Service in Britain saw its largest strike in its 75-year history on Monday when tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance personnel walked off the job (NHS). Workers and unions claim that despite the government’s pay increase, wages have not kept pace with inflation.
Both members of the Royal College of Nursing and ambulance employees who are GMB and Unite union members engaged in the work stoppage on Monday, despite the fact that nurses and ambulance staff had recently taken part in separate strikes.
On Tuesday, nurses are expected to walk out once more, and on Thursday, physiotherapists will do the same. Before the end of March, ambulance employees intend to strike seven more times.
The workers are demanding that the government reopen pay negotiations, insisting that a planned 4.8% pay rise isn’t enough to compensate for the UK’s spiraling inflation rate, which stood above 10% in December. Unions have demanded that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak get involved in the negotiations, something he has thus far refused to do.
Sunak can demonstrate that his government “is on the side of the hardworking, decent taxpayer” by negotiating, Royal College of Nursing chief Pat Cullen wrote in a letter to the PM on Sunday. “There would be no simpler way to demonstrate this commitment than bringing the nurse strike to a swift close,” she concluded.
A spokesperson for Sunak called the strikes “deeply regrettable,” while the NHS noted that industrial action would place its services “under increased pressure” at an already busy time. The health service noted on its website that October and November were already the busiest months on record for emergency room visits and ambulance callouts.