British nurses announced on Tuesday February 21 that they were suspending their strike movement, and that they were renouncing at this stage their 48-hour mobilization scheduled for next week, the government having agreed to negotiate with the unions. In a joint statement, the Royal College of Nursing, the profession’s main union, and the UK Department of Health announced “to have agreed to enter into a process of intensive discussions”.
According to the text, these negotiations will concern “wages, conditions and reforms to increase productivity”. Health Minister Steve Barclay is due to meet union officials on Wednesday, it is said.
The announcement comes as the mobilization of nurses appeared to be hardening, with a two-day uninterrupted strike scheduled for 1er March. This mobilization, unprecedented in its length, was also to concern for the first time the emergency services, intensive care, oncology and other departments which have not disengaged until then.
Nurses are demanding pay rises for the current school year, but the government has so far only been willing to negotiate for the coming year, calling it a“unaffordable” the demands of the profession.
At the beginning of February, the nurses and the paramedics had decided to strike together, which made their movement the largest mobilization in the history of the British health system. In addition to nurses, paramedics, railway workers and certain public officials have stopped work several times in recent months to demand wage increases due to record inflation in the United Kingdom. It was still above 10% in January.