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The coming weeks could provide a ‘breather’ in the long-running wage dispute between trade unions and ministers, finally ending one of the worst periods of industrial unrest in decades. government officials believe.
After the biggest strike in NHS history this week, nurses and ambulance drivers walked out on the same day, and while the Royal College of Nursing has not planned a new date, the next actions by British paramedics are 2 Not until the 20th of the month.
Strikes in other sectors are scheduled for the next two weeks, but hope remains on both sides of the NHS dispute that the impasse may be resolved.
No signs of a breakthrough yet, with cabinet ministers refusing to comply with union demands for wage negotiations this financial year, but the brief pause in the NHS strike gives both sides an opportunity to step back and resume negotiations. Ministers believe they could provide.
Individually, the strike has turned into a war of attrition, with some government and union members exhausted after months of stalemate.
Union insiders say Rishi Sunak is presiding over a “lost month” in a dispute that has seen no meaningful talks between ministers and union representatives since the first week of January. I am also angry with
On January 9, Health Secretary Steve Barkley gave hope to unions by saying the government would consider proposals for a settlement dated back to early January for 2023-24.
However, after four weeks, there has been no action on this retroactive plan. However, Sunak’s official spokesman suggested it was still under consideration when he said the government was still “considering the proposals submitted by the unions” on Monday. .
A senior government source said: [union leaders] We would like to discuss and reach an agreement. These strikes are very draining on staff who are still working. They have many special pressures.
“Both sides have a desire to find a mutually agreeable way.”
However, health union insiders have said they are open to new negotiations since January 9, but none have responded to further negotiations.
“We have to be careful that this is not just an SOP,” said a trade union source. Another union official said: it’s tired. However, this means that members are paid enough to cover their living expenses. People forget that it’s the crux. “
Mr. Barclay was due to meet with representatives of the GMB union last week, but sent his deputy, Will Quince, instead.
Some union officials believe the government’s plan is to wait for “the clock to run out” for the 2022-23 fiscal year, which ends in April.
Before Christmas, there were reports that the government planned to wait and wait for the public to turn their backs on the union.
However, repeated polls since then have shown that public support for striking workers has been maintained in most sectors. A Savanta poll this week found that two-thirds of her Britons support striking nurses.
There are also signs that the public is learning to live with chaos. 88,000 hospital appointments, including 10,000 surgeries, had to be rearranged due to the NHS dispute, but Monday’s Cobra meeting, where paramedics and nurses walked out together, said the general public I heard there was a drop off on 999 calls from. Switch to 111.
More than 170 soldiers helped drive ambulances on Monday.
There is also renewed pressure from within the government for a breakthrough. On Tuesday, the PCS union announced that 100,000 civil servants will resign on his March 15 budget day. Not only will this cause chaos in the government and its institutions, it threatens to overshadow key policies of Jeremy Hunt. Accounting moment.
Critics from both trade unions and the Conservative Party say ministers are deliberately dragging their feet rather than trying to break the deadlock.
This week, Health Choices Commission Tory chairman Steve Bryne noted that the government had yet to contribute to the NHS’s salary review body towards a settlement next year, and said the new contract would be a public sector salary packet. workers when the new fiscal year begins in April.
Bryne told Commons:
“Does the minister agree that the repatriation letter was helpful earlier, and when do you expect the ministry to provide that evidence to this year’s salary review board round? “
Quince said the government is working on an independent wage review process, adding: in that spirit.
“I want to use the term quickly because we have to wait for the whole government to finish talking to unions, but I really want it to end as soon as possible.”
However, the reaction was met with skepticism from the unions, as no substantive negotiations have taken place since 9 January.