UK nurses call first-ever strike in the history of their healthcare system

File – Nursing staff hold placards outside the British Royal College of Nursing in London. – Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/dpa

The UK’s main nursing union has announced strikes for December 15 and 20, in what would be the first ever walkout in the history of the British healthcare system.

The British Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has indicated that it has been left with no other option after talks with government ministers, in which it had demanded a five percent pay rise above the rate of inflation, failed, so workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will strike for two days in December for 12 hours.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen has indicated that it is «ministers who have chosen to strike»: «They have the power and the means to stop this by opening serious talks to address our dispute».

«Nurses are fed up with being taken for granted, underpaid and insecure staffing, that we can’t give our patients the care they deserve,» Cullen said, as reported by the BBC.

The announcement of this health strike comes on top of strikes by Scottish postal workers, university staff and schoolteachers, as well as railway workers.

Although the unions have indicated that there are no plans for general strikes, several have spoken of coordinating actions to maximize disruption and political impact.

The economic impact of the strikes remains uncertain, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), whose growth figures previously estimated the impact of shutdowns such as Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in September, reports ‘The Guardian’.