After months of strikes in claim for better salaries that allow to face the inflation of the country, the unions that represent thousands of workers in the field of nursing and health announced an agreement with the British government.
The pact in question will apply to nearly one million workers of the National Health Service (NHS) and includes a 5% wage increase for next year while, for this 2023, an additional 2% rise is guaranteed and a voucher of 1,250 pounds (USD 1,510) per person.
The agreement does not reach the doctorsthat they must continue with their forceful measures to obtain a meeting in Downing Street that allows them a place at the negotiating table.
Although the rise is not consistent with inflation in the United Kingdom – which exceeded 11% in October and stood at 10.1% in January – the main unions have recommended accepting the proposal made by the executive of Rishi Sunak.
“The members made the most difficult decision to go on strike and I believe that today they have been vindicated,” said the general secretary of the Royal College of NursingPat Cullen.
“It is not a panacea but it is real and tangible progress and RCN member leaders call on fellow nurses to support what our negotiations have achieved,” he added.
However, from the small union Unite -of about 100,000 workers-, the leader Sharon Graham rejected the proposed conditions.
After learning of the agreement, the Prime Minister supported the negotiations, described the pact as “affordable for the taxpayer” and assured that the money will not come from cuts in “patient-oriented” services. Meanwhile, he assured that he will allow his government “fulfill the promise to reduce inflation by half”, something that -he assures- would not be possible if a higher increase were granted.
“We have adopted a reasonable approach at all times,” he also responded to criticism from the unions that held him responsible for the avoidable days of strike that resulted from his “hesitations and delays.”
These forceful measures have put and continue to put the national health service, which is still recovering from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic, at risk.
In this sense, although this Thursday was an important step towards restoring the situation in the country, the doctors recent graduates -some 36,000 professionals- continue with their strike 72 hours pending negotiations.
Along with them, railway workers, airport staff handling baggage, border staff, driving instructors and postal workers continue to walk out.
They all argue that public sector wages have not kept pace with price increases.
On the eve, the head of the Treasury, jeremy hunt had announced a budget that generated some discomfort among the workers since does not contemplate increases for the sectors that have adhered to these force measures.
(With information from AP and AFP)
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