UK’s nurses, doctors, and teachers went on strike on Wednesday, demanding that salaries keep up with rising costs, as the government defended its decision to offer below-inflation raises to public sector employees.
A day after ministers announced a series of wage increases for two million public sector employees, official figures showed June inflation reaching a 40-year high of 9.4 percent, prompting numerous workers’ organizations to call for strike action.
Pay settlements in Britain’s publicly financed National Health Service were as high as 9.3 percent for the lowest earnings, but many fell well short of the pace at which costs are growing.
The Royal College of Nursing said that it will hold a poll to determine if members wanted to pursue strike action.
“Ministers have made a serious error. With this low award, the government is misjudging the sentiment of nursing workers as well as the general public “Pat Cullen, Chief Executive of the RCN, said
“Living costs are rising and yet they have enforced another real-terms pay cut on nursing staff.”
The British Medical Association, which represents physicians, claimed the government was on a “collision course” while the National Education Union, which represents teachers, warned it would endorse strikes unless the government renegotiated.
The settlements, according to Treasury Minister Simon Clarke, were “extremely generous” by recent standards.
“We’re trying to strike the right balance between recognising the vital service that all of these 2 million people bring to our country, but also balancing that against the risk of fuelling the inflation problem and making it more permanent and harder to tackle quickly, by setting above inflation pay,” he told Times Radio.