On Monday, over 20,000 English nurses and ambulance service staff took to the streets to demand a pay rise that reflects inflation rate, which is currently over 10 percent.
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"The government needs to listen and discuss pay rather than just saying the National Health Service (NHS) does not have money. We cannot survive with what we are being paid," said nurse Ethna Vaughan, who was protesting outside St. Thomas' Hospital in central London.
"We have got to look at the future, which looks very bleak. A lot of people have left our profession because they are disillusioned, and poor pay makes it harder to recruit more personnel,” nurse Rebecca Cosgrave lamented.
Since June 2022, around 500,000 U.K. public sector workers have been striking to pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to resolve pay disputes and limit the disruption to health services.
This weekend, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) trade union asked Sunak to make meaningful pay offers.
On Monday, a spokesperson for Sunak yet told Reuters agency there were no plans for the Prime Minister to get involved in the negotiations. “A pay increase will be unaffordable since it will make interest rates and mortgage payments rise further,” the government alleged.
The NHS Providers Chief Julian Hartley implicitly criticizes this stance. “We wanted to see open talks with unions, particularly considering what happened in Wales,” he insisted, recalling that nurses and ambulance workers called off strikes planned for Monday in Wales given that they managed to discuss pay offers with their government.
“We said that we would cancel strikes if negotiations proved effective. However, if there is no agreement with the government, we have no option but to continue to strike,” the RCN Secretary Pat Cullen stated.