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Historic social crisis in Britain, nurses on strike

According to estimates, real wages for nurses have fallen by 20% since 2010, mainly due to the current crisis in the cost of living, with inflation exceeding 11%.

British nurses will go on strike on December 15 and 20, a move not seen in 106 years that illustrates the severity of the social crisis in the United Kingdom with job cuts in many sectors not seen for decades.

“Nurses have had enough,” said Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) union. “Enough of the low salaries, (…) enough of not being able to give the patients the care they deserve”.

Staff voted on 9 November for this unprecedented strike in the history of the RCN, established 106 years ago. This union announced on Friday two days of action on December 15 and 20 following “the rejection of negotiations by the government”.

For Health Secretary Steve Barclay, “this is a difficult time for everyone” and the Government cannot meet the “prohibitive” demands of the RCN, which “represent a 19.2% pay rise”.

One in four hospitals have set up food banks to support staff, according to NHS Providers, which represents hospital groups in England.

“A staff shortage across the UK”

This strike comes as the public health system (NHS), which has been underfunded for years, is plunged into a serious crisis. The government has announced a £3.3 billion increase in the NHS budget next year and the year after.

According to the RCN, 47,000 nurses are unemployed in England. Last year, 25,000 nurses or midwives who worked in the public sector slammed the door. “Poor pay is contributing to staff shortages across the UK, affecting patient safety,” the union said.

More than seven million people are waiting for treatment in UK hospitals, a record high.

Many sectors mobilized

But the social movement does not only affect the health sector. Many other public and private sector workers, from lawyers to airport staff, have also gone on strike this year.

In Scotland, teachers went on strike on Thursday to demand increases. University employees also stopped working Thursday and Friday, a move that affected about 2.5 million students.

Postal workers have extended their strike until 2023, which could affect the delivery of mail and packages during the holiday season.

Transport is also affected. The London Underground was paralyzed by a very popular movement on 10 November. Rail workers have announced several days of action between now and the end of the year and the first week of January. Officials have also announced a social movement.

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