Unprecedented strike by nurses in the United Kingdom in the face of the drastic drop in their wages

British nurses will go on strike on December 15 and 20, an unprecedented movement in 106 years, illustrating the seriousness of the social crisis in the United Kingdom with walkouts in many sectors which had not been seen for decades.

“Nurses have had enough,” said Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) union. “Enough of the low salaries, (…) enough of not being able to give patients the care they deserve”. The staff had voted on November 9 in favor of this unprecedented strike in the history of the RCN, created 106 years ago. This union announced Friday two days of action of December 15 and 20 after “the rejection of negotiations on the part of the government”.

According to estimates, the real salary of nurses has fallen by 20% since 2010, in particular due to the current crisis in the cost of living, with inflation exceeding 11%. The annual salary of a novice nurse is 27,000 gross pounds (31,400 euros).

Serious NHS crisis

But for Health Minister Steve Barclay, “this is a difficult time for everyone” and the government cannot meet the “unaffordable” demands of the RCN, which “represent a 19.2% salary increase”. One in four hospitals have set up food banks to support staff, according to NHS Providers, which represents hospital groups in England.

This strike comes as the public health system (NHS), underfunded for years, is plunged into a serious crisis. The government has announced an increase in the NHS budget of £3.3billion next year and the year after. According to the RCN, in England, 47,000 nursing positions are unfilled. Last year, 25,000 nurses or midwives who worked in the public slammed the door.

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