March 17, 2023 : Unions representing healthcare workers in England have agreed on a final pay proposal with the United Kingdom government, potentially ending some strikes influencing the state-run National Health Assistance.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been under increasing pressure to quell the country’s worst run of worker unrest since the 1980s, with strikes affecting almost every aspect of everyday life, from healthcare and transport to schools and border control.
“The Government and NHS Staff Council have finished negotiations and reached a final offer,” they stated in a joint address.
“Both sides believe it offers a fair and reasonable settlement.”
The NHS Staff Council brings forth NHS employers and unions representing staff, containing paramedics, nurses, and midwives.
The conditions did not apply to junior doctors employed in a separate dispute with the government.
This offer still needs to be put to union members for their approval.
Three unions – GMB, Unison, and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) – stated they recommended their members accept the conditions.
Unite stated it would pause strike action while members voted, but it could not recommend the commitment.
“It is not a cure but it is real tangible progression,” RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen commented.
The government said the offer includes a one-off payment of 2.0 percent of 2022/23 salaries and a 5.0 percent pay rise for 2023/24.
This will apply to more than one million individuals, including those not in the unions.
The Prime Minister Sunak said he was “really happy” at what he called a “fair deal” agreed after several weeks of talks.
“Essentially this deal is also affordable for the taxpayer and continues to deliver on my vow to halve inflation,” Sunak said.
The agreement is a significant breakthrough, a day after half a million workers went on strikes to clash with the UK government’s budget.
Previous month, tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance service staff staged the biggest-ever strike in the NHS’s 75-year history.
Earlier the government said it could not meet workers’ demands for bigger pay raises to help cope with inflation’s surge above 10 percent.
Ministers had stated doing so would be unaffordable and could drive inflation more elevated.
The NHS, accessible at the point of use as far as 1948 and a source of pride for numerous Britons, have been particularly affected by strikes as it was presently grappling with a staffing crunch and struggling to heal from pandemic-induced strain.