UK nurses

UK nurses demand pay rise, to go on strike

For the first time in history, nurses under the United Kingdom National Health Service will embark on industrial action to press home their demand for better pay amidst the rising cost of living and soaring energy bills.

About 300,000 registered nurses of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), who are mostly employees of the state-run NHS, voted in support of the strike action, which is expected to begin before the end of the year.

What are their demands?

The RCN nurses lamented that their salaries have dropped by at least 20% in the last ten years, leaving them struggling to feed their families, and as well, pay their bills. According to NHS, some nurses began skipping their meals in September,  so as to be able to feed and clothe their children and are still struggling to afford the rising cost of transportation.

RCN General Secretary, Pat Cullen, in a statement said “anger has become action- our members are saying enough is enough”. The union is asking for a pay rise of 5% above the inflation rate.

What is the government saying?

Reacting to the news of the strike action, UK’s Health Minister, Steve Barclay said:

“We are hugely grateful for the hard work and dedication of the NHS staff, including nurses and deeply regret that some union members have voted for industrial action”.

Spokesperson to the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak who earlier told reporters that the government wanted to strike a balance between the “crucial role” played by nurses and the fiscal challenges facing the country, revealed that the demands of the RCN, which is estimated to cost the UK government about 9billion Pounds ($10.25 billion) would be “simply not deliverable”, adding that contingency place are in place for any “staff impact”

The strike action will cause significant disruption to the UK health system which has already been strained by the Covid-19 pandemic and “severe staff shortage”. According to NHS, there are a record number of about 25,000 nursing vacancies in the UK.  

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