UK Nurses Prepare For Strike Until Christmas
Nurses could carry out strikes until Christmas as the bitter pay row with the Tories deepens, a union leader warned today.
Royal College of Nursing members rejected the Government’s latest pay offer last week, despite general secretary Pat Cullen recommending they accept the deal.
Ministers offered a 5% pay rise for 2023-24 and a one-off payment of at least £1,655 to top up last year’s salary.
Defending the deal, Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands claimed today: “”I just can’t stress enough how that is fair, both to nurses, all of NHS staff, public sector staff and to the taxpayer.
“Of course the other unions are balloting at the moment. The nurses rejected it narrowly, despite the recommendation of Pat Cullen and the RCN leadership.”
But the deal was resisted and nurses are now poised to walkout for 48 hours April 30 and May 2.
NHS nurses in emergency departments, intensive care and cancer wards will take industrial action for the first time.
Ms Cullen today warned more industrial action could be staged in the coming months if members vote for further walkouts.
“We have strike action for the end of this month and the beginning of May, then we will move immediately to ballot our members,” she told BBC1’s Laura Kuenssberg On Sunday show.
“If that ballot is successful it will mean further strike action right up until Christmas.”
NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said it was “not sustainable” for the NHS to continue managing strike action.
She said: “It’s really clear to me that it’s not sustainable going forward for the NHS to manage strike action.
“It feels like a really ugly situation to say we are going to have strikes now until Christmas.
“We really desperately need the government to come to the table alongside the unions coming to the table to sort this out.”
Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting urged RCN members not to walk out from emergency and critical care.
“There just aren’t circumstances in which I’m going to sit on your programme and say I think it’s right to remove cover for emergency care, for cancer care. I think that’d be the wrong thing to do,” he told Sky News.
“I think one of the reasons why the RCN has enjoyed widespread public support is that in previous rounds of industrial action, they have been going out of their way, in fact, to say that ‘We are going to protect emergency care, we are going to protect cancer care’, and I’m deeply worried about the risk of escalation of the nature of their dispute, to remove what’s known as the derogations, the measures they put in place to protect those areas of care.”
Ms Cullen insisted nurses would leave picket lines to take care of patients if there was an emergency.
“Nurses will not turn their backs on patients,” she vowed.