LONDON: Nurses across most of Britain will hold the first strikes in their union’s 106-year history next month, joining a host of other workers taking industrial action over pay.

Staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland — but not Scotland — will walk out on Dec 15 and 20, after the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union said the government had turned down an offer of negotiations.

It will be the latest industrial action in Britain, where decades-high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis have prompted staff in various sectors to demand pay rises to keep up with spiralling prices.

The RCN’s England director Patricia Marquis apologised on Friday to patients who would have operations or treatments cancelled. But she said the strikes were about “nurses standing up for themselves, and also critically, for patients”.

The nurses’ strike will be sandwiched between the first of a series of two-day walkouts by national railway workers, while postal service employees will stage fresh stoppages in the run-up to Christmas.

Numerous other public and private sector staff, from lawyers to airport ground personnel, have also held strikes this year.

The Office for National Statistics said “well over half a million working days” were lost to strikes in August and September — the highest two-month total for more than a decade.

With more strikes expected, there are predictions that days lost to stoppages could reach levels not seen since the 1970s and 1980s. Ambulance staff in Scotland are due to walk out on Monday.

Other health unions representing midwives, physiotherapists and junior doctors have or are planning to ballot their members.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2022

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