December 9, 2022

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Nurses across the NHS to strike in run-up to Christmas

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Nurses across the NHS will strike in the run-up to Christmas, threatening further disruption to healthcare in much of Britain at the busiest time of the year for hospitals that are already struggling to bring down record waiting lists.

The Royal College of Nursing announced on Friday that some of its members would walk out on December 15 and 20 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Pat Cullen, the union’s general secretary, said ministers had refused to open formal talks over pay and patient safety and had effectively “chosen strike action” when they had “the power and the means to stop this”.

The union’s members will be in the vanguard of a wave of industrial action that looks set to spread across the health service and many other parts of the public sector over the winter, despite tentative signs of progress in resolving the long-running dispute in the rail industry.

Hopes of a settlement on the railways rose on Thursday when new transport secretary Mark Harper held talks with Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT union. Harper said the meeting had been “constructive”, while Lynch described the talks as “positive”.

After the meeting, Harper said: “There is a deal to be done, and I believe we will get there,” adding that he wanted to “facilitate” an agreement between rail unions and employers — a change of tack from his predecessor, Grant Shapps, who had refused to meet Lynch.

However, Lynch declined to call off strikes the RMT had announced earlier in the week, including a series of 48-hour stoppages in December and January, and an overtime ban for its members at Network Rail and 14 train operators over the festive period.

Meanwhile, widespread walkouts hit the education sector on Thursday. Strikes affected almost every university in England, as a long-running dispute over pay and pensions escalates; and Scottish schools were closed after the country’s education union rejected a last-minute revised pay offer.

2022-11-24 19:01:59

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