An unprecedented strike by nurses is at the heart of a historic social crisis

British nurses will go on strike on December 15 and 20, a move unprecedented in 106 years, illustrating the severity of the social crisis in the UK, with walkouts in many sectors not seen for decades. “Enough Nurses”Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union, summed it up. “Enough of low pay, (…) not being able to give patients the care they deserve”.

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On November 9, staff voted in favor of the strike, an unprecedented move in the history of the RCN, which was formed 106 years ago. The union announced two days of action on December 15 and 20 on Friday, November 25 “Rejection of negotiations by the government”. According to estimates, real salaries for nurses have fallen by 20% since 2010, particularly due to the current cost-of-living crisis, with inflation at over 11%. The annual salary of a junior nurse is 27,000 gross pounds (31,400 euros).

But for Health Minister Steve Barclay, “It’s a tough time for everyone.” And government demands cannot be fulfilled “Inevitable” of the RCN, which “Represents a 19.2% salary increase”.

Seven million people are waiting for treatment

According to NHS Providers, which represents hospital groups in England, one in four hospitals have set up food banks to support staff. “We are exhausted. We are tired. We need to rise to live.”London hospital nurses who voted to strike told Agence France-Presse Amira.

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read more: In the UK, inflation has topped 11%, the highest rate since 1981.

Nurses oppose the strike, fearing the mobilization will harm patients. But Amira, who refused to be named, “British government playing with patients’ health without raising wages”. He tells about covid-19, where colleagues lost their lives. “And why? For the government and the world to praise us” ?

The strike has left the public health system (NHS), which has been underfunded for years, in dire straits. The government has announced a £3.3 billion increase in the NHS budget next year and the year after.

A nurse at the Vaccination Center at the Royal Free Hospital in London on December 7, 2020.

According to the Royal College of Nursing in England, there are 47,000 nursing posts unfilled. Last year, 25,000 public sector nurses or midwives walked out the door. “Poor pay contributes to staff shortages across the UK, affecting patient safety”Condemns the union.

More than 7 million people are waiting for treatment in English hospitals, a record number.

Lawyers, postal workers, teachers…

Social mobility has not only affected the health sector. From lawyers to airport ground staff, many government and private sector workers have also gone on strike this year. In Scotland, teachers went on strike on Thursday 24 November. University employees also stopped working on Thursday and Friday, affecting about 2.5 million students.

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Postal workers have extended their strike to 2023, which could affect mail and parcel delivery during the holiday season. Traffic is also affected. The London Underground was paralyzed on November 10 by a very popular movement. Railway employees have announced that the action will be taken for several days between the end of this year and the first week of January. Officials have also announced a social movement.

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read more: England: London Underground paralyzed by ongoing strike

“The last major strikes were in the 1970s and 1980s, but they mainly affected the private sector and industry. There, it was mainly the public sector.”He was a striker, explained Agence France-Presse Pippa Catterall, a professor of history at the University of Westminster. “People have been under pressure for a long time. It is not only the salary but also the workload. We don’t see how things will change other than going on strike.”She continued.

And with record inflation, “People are increasingly irritated by the cosmetic measures announced by employers and the government”.

The world with AFP

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