Several British business sectors are being hit by a protest movement on an unprecedented scale.
British nurses will go on strike on December 15 and 20, an unprecedented move in 106 years, illustrating the severity of the UK’s social crisis with strikes in many sectors not seen for decades. “Nurses have had enoughsummarized Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) union. Enough of low salaries, (…) enough of not being able to give patients the care they deserve».
The staff had voted on November 9 for this unprecedented strike in the history of the RCN, which was called 106 years ago. This union announced on Friday two days of action from December 15 and 20 after “rejection of negotiations by the governmentIt is estimated that since 2010 the real salary of nurses has fallen by 20%, mainly due to the current cost-of-living crisis, with inflation exceeding 11%. The annual salary of an entry-level nurse is £27,000 gross (31,400 euros).
But for Health Secretary Steve Barclay, “it’s a difficult time for everyone“and the government cannot meet the demands”inabordablesof the RCN, thatrepresent a salary increase of 19.2%One in four hospitals has set up food banks to support staff, according to NHS Providers, which represents hospital groups in England.
This strike comes as the public health system (NHS), which has been underfunded for many years, is entering a serious crisis. The government has announced a £3.3 billion increase in the NHS budget for next year and the year after.
According to the RCN, 47,000 nursing places are unfilled in England. Last year, 25,000 nurses or midwives who worked in public slammed the door. “Poor wages contribute to staff shortages in the UK, compromising patient safety“, denounced the union. More than 7 million people are waiting for treatment in UK hospitals, a record number.
Many sectors are on strike
But the social movement is not only affecting the health sector. Many other public and private sector workers, from lawyers to airport ground staff, have also gone on strike this year.
Teachers in Scotland went on strike on Thursday to demand wage increases. University employees also stopped working on Thursday and Friday, a move that affected some 2.5 million students. Postal workers have extended their strike until 2023, which could affect mail and parcel delivery during the holiday season.
Transport is also affected. The London Underground was paralyzed on November 10 by a very popular movement. Railway workers have announced several days of action between now and the end of the year and the first week of January. Officials have also announced a social movement.
«The last major strikes date from the 1970s and 1980s, but mainly affected the private sector and industry. There it is mainly the public sectorexplained to AFP Pippa Catterall, professor of history at the University of Westminster, herself a striker. “People have been under pressure for a long time. It is not only about the salaries, but also about the workload. (…) We don’t see how things can change other than by going on strike“, she continued. And with record inflation,people are increasingly annoyed by the cosmetic measures that employers and government have announced».
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