Nurses across UK to go on strike next month

Nurses across UK to go on strike next month

Action announced by Royal College of Nursing to take place in England, Wales, Northern Ireland over pay dispute

By Beyza Binnur Donmez

ANKARA (AA) - Nurses in the UK are preparing to go on strike for the first time on Dec. 15- 20 over pay dispute with the government.

The strike will take place across England, Northern Ireland and Wales after the UK government "rejected our offer of formal negotiations," the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said in a statement on Friday.

Plans for action in Scotland, meanwhile, have been paused after Edinburgh decided to return to the negotiating table.

Noting that the strike just ahead of Christmas will be the first phase of their action, the RCN said "more strike dates could be announced after initial action in December, if governments fail to enter into formal negotiations."

"They have the power and means to stop strikes at any point but have chosen to go down this route," it added.

Describing that the dispute is also over patient safety as much as pay, the union said: "Staffing levels are so low that patient care is being compromised. Only by paying nursing staff fairly will we recruit and retain people in our profession."

"So far, our meetings with the UK government have seen ministers sidestep the serious issues" of the National Health Service pay and patient safety, the statement said.

"Ministers have had more than two weeks since we confirmed that our members felt such injustice that they would strike for the first time," said RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen.

"My offer of formal negotiations was declined and instead ministers have chosen strike action. They have the power and the means to stop this by opening serious talks that address our dispute.

"Nursing staff have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and unsafe staffing levels, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve," Cullen said.

Britain is currently experiencing a wave of industrial action, sparked by a bitter cost-of-living crisis triggered by soaring inflation and a deteriorating economy.

Earlier this week, the Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers union announced a series of 48-hour rail strikes in the run-up to Christmas, and in the New Year.

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