Nurses strike: RCN members at St Thomas’ Hospital in London
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More nurses strikes that would see twice as many workers walkout will be announced for February if talks with ministers do not make progress, union leaders have warned. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that the strikes will be announced if negotiations with the Government over pay fail to make progress by the end of this month.
Should it go ahead the February strike would see all eligible RCN members going on strike for the first time.
This would make it the union’s biggest strike to date.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said that the public backed the nurses in their pay dispute and blasted Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s “baffling” attitude to negotiations.
Initially the union insisted on a 19 percent pay rise, although they have indicated that they may be willing to accept 10 percent.
Downing Street appears to be aiming to end the dispute by considering a one -off payment to nurses, according to Sky News.
Mr Sunak appears to be determined to push through new legislation that would ensure trade unions in certain sectors, including health, would have to provide minimum service levels during industrial action.
In effect this would mean that union members who had voted for industrial action could be forced to continue working or face the sack from their employer.
Unions could also be prosecuted under the proposed legislation if they refuse to cooperate with the minimum service requirements.
Ms Cullen said that ministers were risking forcing nurses to quit the NHS in large numbers.
She said:”The nurse shortage costs lives – Sunak cannot put a price on a safe NHS.”
The RCN said that February 6 had been earmarked as the strike day, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of an inquiry that looked into how nursing shortages had an impact on patient mortality.
The Robert Francis inquiry focused on the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, where hundreds of patients were neglected from 2005 to 2009, with some elderly people lying in their own urine.
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It comes ahead of RCN walkouts on Wednesday January 18 and Thursday January 19, when nurses from more than 70 NHS trusts will strike.
This includes 55 trusts in England that were not involved in December’s industrial action.
RCN members are also set to walkout in Wales, although there is no industrial action planned in Scotland where negotiations with Holyrood are ongoing, or Northern Ireland, where the Stormont executive is not functioning.
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