UK Nurses to Go on Strike for First Time in History

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) confirmed on Wednesday that nurses across the UK would go on strike for the first time in history, with staff in 131 National Health Service (NHS) organizations in England, 12 in Wales, 23 in Scotland, and 11 in Northern Ireland voting in favor of the action.

UK Nurses to Go on Strike for First Time in History
Image credit: PA Archive [via Independent]

Facts

  • The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) confirmed on Wednesday that nurses across the UK would go on strike for the first time in history, with staff in 131 National Health Service (NHS) organizations in England, 12 in Wales, 23 in Scotland, and 11 in Northern Ireland voting in favor of the action.
  • The RCN, comprised of more than 300K members, said the strike to demand better pay would begin before the end of the year following the first-ever strike vote in its 106-year-old history.
  • RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen said in an official statement that “anger has become action – our members are saying enough is enough," with the union requesting a pay increase of 5% above inflation, which is currently at 10%.
  • According to the RCN, NHS nurses' salaries have declined by 20% in real terms over the last 10 years, with pressure reportedly mounting as 25k nursing staff members have left in the last year, and 7M patients are on waiting lists to receive treatment.
  • Downing Street, now led by PM Rishi Sunak, said the plans were "deeply regrettable" and that the pay demand — which would amount to £9B ($10.25B) — was “not deliverable” given the current economic condition.
  • The union has made it clear that priority will still be given to treating emergency patients under a “life-preserving care model" after the strike begins.

Sources: Independent, CNN, Al Jazeera, and Telegraph.

Narratives

  • Left narrative, as provided by The Guardian. Finally, nurses in the UK are standing up for themselves as the country's Tory leadership continues to assault working people. Nurses — an absolutely essential part of any society — have been underpaid for years and are rightly fighting back. The onus is now on the government to meet them at the negotiating table.
  • Right narrative, as provided by Daily Mail. No one is saying that nurses don't deserve to be paid more for their life-saving work, but the current economic situation in the UK is just too bleak to afford such an increase. A strike will only serve to cripple the already faltering NHS, which will see patients suffer, and inequalities in care worsen.