UK Nurses 'Cry Out' to Sunak to Raise Pay Offer and End Strikes
11:51 GMT 06.02.2023 (Updated: 15:25 GMT 28.05.2023)
© AP Photo / Frank Augstein / Nurses of the nearby St. Thomas' Hospital in central London stand on the picket lineNurses of the nearby St. Thomas' Hospital in central London stand on the picket line
© AP Photo / Frank Augstein / Nurses of the nearby St. Thomas' Hospital in central London stand on the picket line
The wave of strikes across diverse sectors of the UK economy has been raging since summer 2022, as public and private sector employers' pay offers fail to match double-digit inflation prompted by sanctions on Russia.
Striking British nurses have "cried out" to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to end the dispute with a better pay offer.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) embarked its fifth day of strikes on Monday in demand of a pay rise five percent over the rate of inflation to make up for years of National Health Service (NHS) pay freezes.
With the consumer price index (CPI) rate running at 10.5 percent and the retail price index (RPI) at 15.2 percent, that could translate to a 20 percent wage hike for hundreds of thousands of nurses.
Patricia Marquis, the RCN's director for England, said the trade union had no "direct contact" from the PM since the start of the strikes.
"It's a cry out to Rishi Sunak to come to the table to seek a resolution," Marquis said. "So far we've not had direct contact with him, all of our efforts have been through the secretary of state for health" Steve Barclay, "and those have not really brought us any solutions."
"We don't want the strikes to go ahead," Marquis stressed. "We're really calling on the prime minister to intervene, to come to the table and seek a resolution with us."
1 February 2023, 11:49 GMT
Sunak insisted last week that the government could not raise taxes any further to fund salary increases. But as chancellor of the exchequer under former PM Boris Johnson, he raised Corporation Tax from 19 percent to 25 percent, and the National Insurance social security tax by 1.25 percent.
Those tax hikes were to make up for hundreds of billions in spending during the COVID-19 pandemic, to clear the resulting backlog of non-urgent NHS appointments and operations and to fund social care for the elderly.