LONDON ( Associated Press) – British government ministers were meeting with union leaders Monday in an effort to end a series of strikes that have crippled the rail network and are straining an already creaking health care system. were.
Health Secretary Steve Barkley was meeting with unions for health workers, while other members of government were to meet rail unions that have been on strike for months and teachers’ unions that are considering going on strike.
Britain is experiencing its biggest strike wave in decades. Airport baggage workers, border workers, driving instructors, bus drivers and postmen are some of those who went on strike demanding higher wages.
Nurses and ambulance workers are in an ongoing dispute with the state-funded National Health Service, demanding they be up to speed with the skyrocketing cost of living. Inflation in the UK hit 11.1% at the end of last year, a 41-year record, driven by a sharp rise in energy and food prices.
Pat Cullen, head of the Royal College of Nursing, said he saw a “moment of optimism” in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s comments on Sunday that he was willing to talk about “affordable and responsible” pay claims. So far, the Conservative government has insisted it will only consider tax increases for the 2023-2024 fiscal year starting in April, rather than for the current year.
But the government has angered unions with its plan to make it harder to strike for workers they need to maintain during a strike by setting a “minimum safety level” for firefighters, ambulance services and the railways.
There did not appear to be any major progress on Monday, and unions said the talks would not prevent a new day of nurses’ strike called for Wednesday. Ambulance workers were set to strike again next week and junior doctors are voting to strike later this year.
These actions have added to the pressure on a healthcare system already facing a number of challenges, including increased demand for care after the lifting of pandemic restrictions, outbreaks of flu and other cold viruses and staff shortages after two years of lockdowns is included. Shortage of European workers in post-Brexit Britain.
Thousands of hospital beds are filled with people who could have been discharged but have nowhere to go because of a lack of long-term care facilities. This has led to ambulances being blocked in front of hospitals for patients who have no room, and as a result people with medical emergencies have to wait hours for an ambulance to arrive.