The UK is about to experience a wave of strikes, starting with the nurses unions.
Tens of thousands of nurses across the United Kingdom are set to walk off the job Thursday in what’s been described as the largest-ever strike by National Health Service workers, who said they were forced to act after the government refused to negotiate over pay amid painfully high inflation.
The walkout represents NHS nurses’ first national strike, and it comes as U.K. rail and postal workers are also taking major labor actions in response to falling real pay, meager benefits, and worsening conditions.
The RCN [Royal College of Nursing] said a strike became inevitable after U.K. ministers declined every offer to start formal pay negotiations. Earlier this week, [Pat] Cullen [general secretary and chief executive of the RCN] met with Tory Health Secretary Steve Barclay in a last-ditch effort to discuss pay before launching the national strike, but he refused to budge.
“I asked several times to discuss pay and each time we returned to the same thing—that there was no extra money on the table, and that they would not be discussing pay with me,” Cullen said. “I needed to come out of this meeting with something serious to show nursing staff why they should not strike this week. Regrettably, they’re not getting an extra penny.”
Jonathan Pie says that all those striking deserve the increases in wages and benefits and job security they are asking for.
On a personal note, I have great fondness for the British nursing profession. I spent a lot of time as a child in UK hospitals and one of the main things that stands out for me in my memory are the nurses. They were briskly efficient but also kind and caring. I would give them anything they asked for.