February 4, 2023
Trending Tags

RCN accuse government of ‘belligerence’ as talks to avert strike action fail; Wales strikes to go ahead – UK politics live | Politics

Read Time:15 Minute, 24 Second

RCN accuse government of ‘belligerence’ as talks to avert strike action fail

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) general secretary, Pat Cullen, said the health secretary, Steve Barclay, refused to discuss pay with her at their meeting this evening.

Up to 100,000 nurses are expected to take part in the first of a series of strikes across 53 NHS organisations in England on Thursday.

In a statement, Cullen said:

The government was true to its word – they would not talk to me about pay. I needed to come out of this meeting with something serious to show nurses why they should not strike this week. Regrettably, they are not getting an extra penny.

Ministers had too little to say and I had to speak at length about the unprecedented strength of feeling in the profession.

I expressed my deep disappointment at the belligerence – they have closed their books and walked away.

Key events

Filters BETA

Evening summary

Matthew Weaver

Matthew Weaver

The current prolonged cold snap could prompt a sharp increase in excess death this winter as financial worries force vulnerable households to skimp on heating, charities have warned.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition fears there will be fatal consequences from the scale of those economising on heating, as forecasters predict the UK will be hit by sub-zero temperatures for the rest of the week.

Simon Francis, the group’s coordinator said: “People are now literally choosing between heating and dying. We obviously understand the financial pain that everyone is going through, but you can recover from debt, you can’t recover from dying. If people don’t have their heating on, they will end up at the doors of the NHS or even worse.”

Each year there are on average about 10,000 excess deaths caused by cold and damp homes. Francis fears there will be a record increase in such deaths this year because so many are struggling to pay bills.

Read more: Excess deaths could rise as vulnerable skimp on heating, UK charities warn

RCN accuse government of ‘belligerence’ as talks to avert strike action fail

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) general secretary, Pat Cullen, said the health secretary, Steve Barclay, refused to discuss pay with her at their meeting this evening.

Up to 100,000 nurses are expected to take part in the first of a series of strikes across 53 NHS organisations in England on Thursday.

In a statement, Cullen said:

The government was true to its word – they would not talk to me about pay. I needed to come out of this meeting with something serious to show nurses why they should not strike this week. Regrettably, they are not getting an extra penny.

Ministers had too little to say and I had to speak at length about the unprecedented strength of feeling in the profession.

I expressed my deep disappointment at the belligerence – they have closed their books and walked away.

Nursing strikes will go ahead in Wales

Nursing strikes are set to go ahead in Wales after last-minute talks to resolve the dispute over pay collapsed, PA reports.

The Welsh government and a number of unions – including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) – met on Monday afternoon, but failed to reach an agreement.

In July, following the recommendation of the NHS pay review body, a flat pay increase of £1,400 was announced for nurses, cleaners, porters, healthcare support workers and healthcare professionals, on most Agenda for Change pay bands.

However, unions have repeatedly argued that the pay rise, which is as much as 10.8% for those in the lowest paid roles, was not enough.

The RCN’s Wales director, Helen Whyley, accused the government of being “reckless” with patient safety and of calling a meeting despite them having “no intention of coming to a resolution”.

The first nurse strike will take place on 15 December, and should no resolution be found afterwards, a second strike day will take place on 20 December.

Helen Pidd

Helen Pidd

Almost a third of TransPennine Express train services have been cancelled on a “dreadful” first full day of a winter timetable that is supposed to improve connectivity on key rail routes.

The timetable should have meant hundreds of extra trains added to Britain’s beleaguered rail network, including the resumption of three services an hour to and from Manchester to London on Avanti West Coast.

Labour said the “shambles” on Monday was entirely predictable and showed the government had been “staggeringly incompetent” in its dealings with the worst performing companies.

Ministers must remove the contracts from failing operators, the shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh, said.

Read more: Third of TransPennine trains cancelled on first day of timetable to add services

Oliver Dowden, the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, has urged the unions to call off strikes to prevent disruption after he chaired a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee this evening.

PA reports he said the government is working to deal with the disruption but added to broadcasters:

I would say, though, that the single best thing that can be done to minimise those risks – we can’t eliminate them all together – is for the strikes to be called off and for those unions to once again engage with the employers.

It’s only fair and reasonable at a time when people are struggling both with the consequences of the situation in Russia and Ukraine, as we emerge from Covid, and indeed this winter, I don’t think most people think it’s fair and reasonable to undertake these strikes.

My message to them, even now, is please call them off.

RCN ‘quite likely’ to walk out of Barclay meeting if it does not focus on pay

Patricia Marquis, the Royal College of Nursing’s director in England, said it’s “quite likely” the union will walk out of a meeting with health secretary Steve Barclay if it does not focus on pay.

Barclay was due to meet the union at 6pm, however earlier today at the No 10 lobby briefing the prime minister’s spokesperson said the government’s position on nurses pay “has not changed”.

Talking to Sky News just minutes before the meeting was due to begin and asked if the union would walk out if the discussion does not focus on nurses pay, Marquis said:

I think that is quite likely as there is no further conversation to be had. As you’ve heard before we’ve already met with Steve Barclay, once on our own and once with the other trade unions and had the same conversation around him not being prepared to talk about pay but he’’ll talk about something else.

Marquis added she was “deeply disappointed” the health secretary and the government can continue to be so “rude” and “disrespectful” to people “trying hard to deliver what patients want”.

Severin Carrell

Severin Carrell

Two major health unions in Scotland have called off strike action after narrowly voting for an upgraded pay offer following ministerial intervention.

Unite and Unison, which represent tens of thousands of NHS and Scottish ambulance service staff, said their members had agreed to a fresh offer that will give the lowest-paid staff up to £2,751, up by 11.24%, with most staff paid £2,205, up 7.5%, and a new minimum hourly rate of £11.09.

The deal, brokered by Scottish ministers, raises the prospect that Scotland’s hospitals will escape industrial action this winter and adds to the pressure on UK government ministers to intervene in pay disputes expected to hit the NHS across the rest of the UK this month.

Read more: Health unions call off strike action in Scotland after new pay offer

The wave of strikes across the country will continue into 2023 unless the government changes tack and engages in “meaningful pay talks with unions”, the TUC warned this evening.

PA reports that the union body accused the government of refusing to engage in good faith on pay, “stonewalling” negotiations and hiding behind pay review bodies.

The TUC’s general secretary Frances O’Grady said:

Nobody goes on strike lightly, but working people have been pushed to breaking point.

Millions of key workers across the public sector have endured more than a decade of pay cuts and across Britain, working families are suffering the longest and harshest wage squeeze in more than 200 years.

That’s why this wave of strike action will continue into 2023 – unless ministers do the right thing and engage in meaningful pay talks with unions.

For too long, ministers have been stonewalling negotiations and hiding behind pay review bodies. They are more interested in playing political football with disputes than resolving them.

Unions stand ready to meet and find a solution. But the Conservatives must stop sabotaging efforts to reach settlements.

If we see more industrial action, it is because of their intransigence. Instead the Government must come to the table and negotiate.

No 10 suggests Barclay won’t negotiate on pay in talks with RCN this evening

Andrew Sparrow

Andrew Sparrow

At the afternoon No 10 lobby briefing, asked about Steve Barclay’s meeting with the RCN tonight, the PM’s spokesperson said: “I think he’s been clear that he’s always willing to meet with the Royal College of Nursing.”

But the spokesperson also played down the prospect of Barclay being willing to negotiate on pay – the condition set by the RCN for its strike to be called off. The spokesperson said:

The position on pay has not changed – that’s rightly for an independent review body to decide.

That’s all from me for today. My colleague Joe Middleton is now taking over.

Boris Johnson calls for Ukraine to be supplied with long-range missiles

Dan Sabbagh

Dan Sabbagh

Boris Johnson called on defence secretary Ben Wallace in the Commons to arm Ukraine with long-range ATACMS missiles to “take out” the launch sites of Russian drones and missiles that are currently battering the country’s civilians and its power grid.

The former prime minister publicly lobbied for the missiles, long sought by the Ukrainians, which have a range of up to 300km, but so far the US and its allies, including the UK, have declined to supply because they could be used to hit targets inside Russia.

Speaking at defence questions in the Commons, Johnson asked:

Does [Wallace] agree with me that we and our allies must help our Ukrainian friends not just to take out the drones and missiles, and that means supplying them with anti-aircraft systems and fixed-wing aircraft to help shoot them down, but also to take out the launch sites of those missiles and drones by supplying the Ukrainians with the use of longer-range missile systems such as ATACMS because that is the way truly to protect our Ukrainian friends and to bring the war to an end as soon as possible?

In reply, Wallace was careful not to rule anything out, although in reality unless the White House changes its mind, it is unlikely the British minister can do much about it. After praising Johnson’s support for Ukraine when he was in No 10, Wallace said “the mass targeting of civilian critical infrastructure is not only a war crime, but is a war crime that we must see does not go unpunished.”

The defence secretary added that he reviewed constantly the “weapon systems we could provide” and suggested that continued targeting of the electricity grid by Russia may prompt a change of policy. He went on:

Should the Russians continue to target civilian areas and try and break those Geneva Conventions, then I will be open-minded to seeing what we do next.

RMT’s Mick Lynch says Network Rail offer rejected by ‘huge’ margin by his members

Back to the RMT, and its members voted by 63.6% to reject Network Rail’s pay offer, on an 83% turnout.

Mick Lynch, the RMT general secretary, said:

This is a huge rejection of Network Rail’s substandard offer and shows that our members are determined to take further strike action in pursuit of a negotiated settlement.

The government is refusing to lift a finger to prevent these strikes and it is clear they want to make effective strike action illegal in Britain.

We will resist that and our members, along with the entire trade union movement, will continue their campaign for a square deal for workers, decent pay increases and good working conditions.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will now press ahead with two 48-hour strikes at Network Rail – and 14 train companies – from Tuesday and Friday.

As PA Media reports, the RMT will now now press ahead with two 48-hour strikes at Network Rail – and 14 train companies – from Tuesday and Friday. PA says:

Trains will run from 7.30am to 6.30pm on this week’s strike days, although many parts of the country will have no services, including most of Scotland and Wales.

A strike by members of Unite at Network Rail will not go ahead after they voted to accept the offer.

Network Rail had offered a 5% pay rise for this year – backdated to January – with another 4% at the start of 2023 and a guarantee of no compulsory job losses until January 2025.

The RMT’s executive recommended rejecting the offer, saying it was linked to “significant” changes to working practices.

RMT workers at Network Rail will also strike from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on 27 December.

Passengers planning to travel on Christmas Eve will likely be urged to complete their journeys by the time industrial action begins.

Rishi Sunak will take questions from the Commons liaison committee for the first time a week tomorrow, on 20 December, it has been announced.

The committee, which is made up of select committee chairs, normally has a session with the PM three times a year. Sunak will face questions on topics including foreign policy and the state of the economy.

Sturgeon says UK ministers should follow her example and use talks with unions to resolve disputes

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has urged Rishi Sunak and his UK government colleagues to follow her example and get involved in trying to resolve disputes with the public sector unions.

As STV reports, she said Scotland was likely to avoid health strikes this week, in part because the Scottish government has been actively involved in trying to reach a pay settlement. She said:

This week, Scotland is likely to be the only part of the UK that doesn’t have strikes in its NHS because we have sought to reach an agreement.

Unions are still balloting on these offers in Scotland but they are not striking this week because they recognise that the Scottish government has sat down and tried to deliver fairness.

The other difference between me and ministers at UK level is that I have a deep and very profound respect for trade unions and the role of collective bargaining.

We have not, unlike counterparts elsewhere, held back in these disputes. We have sought to maximise the pay increases we are giving and I would ask and hope that teachers, like in the NHS, will recognise that and that we seek to reach a resolution on that basis.

Sturgeon said it was wrong for UK government ministers to suggest that public sector workers were pushing up inflation. She said:

I think it is profoundly wrong for UK government ministers to say that public sector workers are responsible for the inflationary pressures we see or the wider economic issues we are dealing with. Partially because of the folly of Brexit, we have labour shortages across the public sector.

And she urged UK ministers to follow her example.

I would make a plea to the UK government today to get round the table with these workers in order to see these issues resolved.

Teachers in Scotland are still planning strike action for January, but Sturgeon said that she hoped that the latest pay off would be enough to avert this.

In the Commons earlier, when the SNP MP Steven Bonnar argued that UK ministers should follow Sturgeon’s example (see 3.56pm), Will Quince, the health minister, suggested that Sturgeon’s approach was flawed. Because of her involvement, health workers in Scotland had received “a considerably higher offer”, that went beyond what the pay review body had recommended, he said. He went on:

It’ll be interesting to see if the first minister of Scotland is going to do this every single year and go against the recommendations of their pay review body.

Quince also said every extra 1% in pay given to the Agenda for Pay workforce (health staff excluding doctors) cost £750m. That was money that could not be spent tackling waiting lists, he said.

And he said the whole point of having a pay review body was that “it depoliticises the issue, and you are not having ministers directly negotiating with unions”.

Helena Horton

Rishi Sunak is facing a protest from some Conservative MPs over the lack of progress on the animal welfare (kept animals) bill.

The legislation, championed by Boris Johnson and his animal welfare campaigner wife Carrie, was supposed to be a ‘Brexit bonus’, banning live animal exports and cracking down on puppy smuggling.

It was first introduced in the 2021-22 session of parliament, and was carried over into this session in the spring. But since then it has been stalled, and Sunak is understood to be lukewarm about its measures because many of them go against his free trade instincts.

The letter, which is signed by MPs including former environment secretary George Eustice and Priti Patel, the former home secretary, states:

We … write to you today to request time is made for the animal welfare (kept animals) bill to return to parliament as soon as feasibly possible.

On live animal exports, it adds: “The introduction of such a policy would make Great Britain the first country in Europe to end the gruelling journeys farmed animals endure as they are transported overseas.”

The MPs point out the commitment was in the 2019 manifesto and so “must be honoured”.

The letter has been organised by the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, one of whose patrons is Carrie Johnson.





Source link

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %
Previous post Jerry Jeudy delivers best game of his NFL career as former Alabama star shines for Denver
Next post The Haygoods – Celebrating 30 Years Of Family Entertainment In Branson, Missouri