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UK nurses to embark on strike over low pay

Nurses in the United Kingdom have voted to stage strikes all over the country for the first time in their history in order to pursue better pay deals, a move that will undoubtedly disrupt the activities of the British National Health Service (NHS).

According to The Guardian of UK, the Royal College of Nursing disclosed on Wednesday that nurses at some hospitals and other places of NHS care would embark on industrial action before Christmas which will persist until May next year.

While lamenting the low pay of nurses, the RCN general secretary and chief executive, Pat Cullen said,  “Anger has become action. Our members are saying enough is enough.

“Our members will no longer tolerate a financial knife-edge at home and a raw deal at work.”

Although, the RCN did not disclose the total number of the 300,000 members it balloted had voted or how many had endorsed or rejected strike action, but the results showed the widespread anger among nurses over the failure of the government to increase the offer it made in July of a pay increase of at least £1,400 to about a million people working in the health service in England.

Cullen equally urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, to consider coming up with extra money to give nurses a bigger pay rise in his budget scheduled for next week.

“Ministers must look in the mirror and ask how long they will put nursing staff through this. While we plan our strike action, next week’s budget is the UK government’s opportunity to signal a new direction with serious investment,” she said.

Due to the nurses’ vote to strike, many UK hospitals will need to reduce their services. Others, however, will not be impacted because at least 50% of its members did not participate in the workplace-based ballot or at least 50% of those voting did not support walkouts, which are two of the legal requirements that trade unions must meet before striking.

This is the first time in the 106-year-old history of the RCN that the body will instigate a statutory ballot of its members across the four home nations about industrial action.

Meanwhile, Britain’s health minister, Steve Barclay, has described the decision as “disappointing”.

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