26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Strikes closer after pay ‘betrayal’

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The threat of a major strike in the United Kingdom’s public education and health sectors loomed ever closer as unions reacted with anger at a Government decision to award below-inflation pay rises.

Ministers announced that National Health Service (NHS) staff would receive an increase of at least 4.5 per cent, teachers at least five per cent, with a £1,900 ($A3,275) rise for police officers.

With energy and food costs soaring, unions had demanded pay rises in line with inflation, currently at 9.1 per cent, but expected to rise to 11 per cent later in the year, according to the Bank of England.

Health unions angrily denounced the NHS pay rises as a “betrayal” and “a kick in the teeth”, and warned stoppages could be on the horizon.

They warned many staff would quit rather than accept a real-term pay cut, exacerbating recruitment and retention problems in key areas such as teaching, nursing and social care.

General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Pat Cullen predicted an exodus of disillusioned nurses from the NHS.

“This is a grave misstep by Ministers … they have enforced another real-term pay cut on nursing staff,” Ms Cullen (pictured) said.

“It will push more nurses and nursing support workers out of the profession.”

Schools in England could face disruption as a result of industrial action later this year after teaching unions dismissed the five per cent pay award as “wholly inadequate” in the face of soaring inflation.

General Secretary of the Unite union, Sharon Graham said the Government had promised rewards for the dedication of the public sector workforce during the pandemic.

“What they have delivered instead, in real terms, is a kick in the teeth,” Ms Graham said.

“The so-called wage offer amounts to a massive national pay cut,” she said.

“We expected the inevitable betrayal but the scale of it is an affront.”

London, 19 July 2022

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