Labour’s shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting today refused to back a call from nurses for an anti-inflationary pay rise as they vote on whether to go on strike.
The opposition frontbencher insisted Labor “would not make promises we cannot keep” as he shied away from fully backing the Royal College of Nursing in their wage dispute.
Mr Streeting insisted he understands why NHS workers are voting to strike. But he said industrial action by health workers was “absolutely not” in the interests of patients ahead of a “difficult winter”.
The Royal College of Nursing this month launched the largest strike vote in its 106-year history.
More than 300,000 members are expected to vote on whether to go on strike.
The nurses’ union is demanding a five percent pay rise above inflation amid the cost-of-living crisis and to tackle what it says has been a decade of real pay cuts.
They have raised concerns about the NHS’ ability to retain nurses or hire new nurses without the pay dispute being addressed.
Labour’s shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting today refused to back a call from nurses for an anti-inflationary pay rise as they vote on whether to go on strike
The Royal College of Nursing this month launched the largest strike vote in its 106-year history
The nurses’ union is demanding a 5 percent above-inflation pay rise amid the cost-of-living crisis and to tackle what it says has been a decade of real pay cuts
Speaking to journalists at a luncheon in Westminster today, Mr Streeting joked he could “now commit to an anti-inflationary pay rise” in the absence of members of Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves’ team.
“But I don’t think it would last until the end of the day, certainly I wouldn’t survive until the end of the day,” he added.
“We will not make promises that we cannot keep. I speak to the unions regularly, they know the Labor Party will do their best – especially in terms of (employee) retention.”
Alongside the threat of a nurses’ strike, some 350,000 Unison members, who work for more than 250 health foundations and boards across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, will also be voted on to go on strike over pay.
The Royal College of Midwives is also voting members on potential industrial disputes over pay, which has increased the risk of NHS-wide strikes in the coming months.
Mr Streeting compared the current pressures on Labor over public sector wage commitments to those the party was facing in 1997 – before Tony Blair came to power in this year’s general election.
He continued: “I think people know… Labor’s heart is in the right place on this matter, but I’m going to be really careful about making promises we can’t keep.
“We are carefully considering what to promise in our next manifesto.
“We recognize that pay comes with retention and that is something the NHS needs to keep in mind.
“But I don’t want to mislead people into thinking that just because there is a change in government, all the problems in our country are immediately easy to solve.
“We have to face some difficult decisions and we have to take people with us.”
Mr Streeting also suggested that NHS workers considering strike action are also motivated by more than just pay.
He claimed that many who work in hospitals feel like they “have their backs to the wall”.
“Basically, strikes in the NHS are absolutely not in their interest for patients and for those waiting lists and backlogs and the timing couldn’t be worse in light of a difficult winter,” he said.
“I understand why the employees are voting to go on strike.
“What really struck me, listening to staff voting for industrial action, is yes it’s partly about their pay and their conditions and you understand that in the context of a cost of living crisis, NHS hospitals Food banks open for their own staff.
“But the main motivating factor that people bring to me first is their concerns about the NHS itself.
“They feel they have raised the warning flag with the government about the lack of safe staff, the poor quality of patient care and the poor outcomes.
“Not only do they come home from their shift broken at the end of the day because they’re working difficult, understaffed shifts, but they’re also worried about whether they’ve done everything they needed to do for their patients.
“So you have this added moral injury.
“We have to ask why is the Royal College of Nursing voting for a strike for the first time in 100 years of its history?
“I think they feel like they have their backs against the wall.” https://fry-electronics.com/how-you-can-improve-your-business-with-customer-experience/. https://worldtimetodays.com/can-you-use-windows-to-run-android-apps/. https://worldtimetodays.com/are-golf-standing-bags-worth-it/.
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/health-news/wes-streeting-refuses-to-back-nurses-pay-demand-and-says-labour-wont-make-promises-we-cant-keep/ Wes Streeting refuses to back nurses’ wage demand, saying Labor will ‘not make promises we can’t keep’.