In the UK, Rishi Sunak is calling for an end to strikes following his latest offer to civil servants
Rishi Sunak’s government on Thursday offered civil servants salary increases of between 5% and 7% depending on the sector. The British Prime Minister calls for an end to the strikes.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday (July 13th) called on public service unions to end strikes and accept the government’s latest pay rise offer, on the first day of an unprecedented strike by doctors.
After announcing that the government accepted the recommendations of the independent public service pay review bodies, the Conservative leader stressed that the proposed increases of 5 to 7% depending on the sector were the last.
“There will be no more salary discussions,” Rishi Sunak said. “We will not negotiate again” and “no strike will change our decision”, he warned during a press conference.
The announced increases include 6.5% for teachers – who have announced the suspension of their movement – 7% for the police, 6% for certain hospital doctors and 5% for the military.
To fund these increases, Rishi Sunak ruled out borrowing or raising taxes and spoke of “reprioritization”, sparking fears of cuts in public spending.
In particular, he announced the increase in the cost of visas and the increase in the amount that immigrants pay to access the public health system, which, he says, will make it possible to earn a billion pounds sterling (1.17 billion euros). ).
Inflation at 8.7% over a year, a record among G7 countries
Britain, which has 5.8 million civil servants, has seen an increase in private and public sector strikes in recent months over wage demands in the face of inflation. In May, this rose to 8.7% over the year, a record among G7 countries.
Rishi Sunak urged the doctors to end their strike. The “junior doctors”, who represent about half of the hospital’s doctors, ranging from young doctors fresh from university to general practitioners with more than eight years of experience, began their new mobilization at same time in England.
This is their longest continuous strike in the history of the NHS, Britain’s public health service, which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, according to the British Medical Association (BMA).
The “consultants”, more qualified doctors, have filed strike notices for July 20 and 21.
“I urge them to accept this proposal”, launched Rishi Sunak, insisting that it came from the independent body and this, so that “we can work together to reduce waiting times”.
According to BMA figures, around 7.42 million people were waiting for treatment in England in April, with just over 3 million patients waiting more than 18 months.
Thousands of vacancies in the NHS
The NHS, to which the British are very attached, is going through a deep crisis, weakened by austerity policies and the consequences of the pandemic.
“The NHS has run on the goodwill (of its staff) and now is the last chance to change that,” said 27-year-old doctor Arjan Singh from a picket line Thursday morning in London outside University College Hospital. With thousands of vacancies already in the NHS, some of his colleagues are considering going abroad, he added.
The BMA did not say on Thursday afternoon whether it accepted the government’s offer. This union claims the “junior doctors” have lost 26% of pay in fixed prices since 2008, when austerity measures were imposed on the health service.
In a statement released just before the strike began, Health Minister Steve Barclay called the 35% increase, which was the union’s starting point, “unreasonable”.
In addition, the unions won a legal victory on Thursday, after challenging a law that allows the use of temporary workers to replace striking employees. The High Court in London ruled in favor of more than ten unions who argued that this law “weakened the right to strike”.