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British nurses, emergency workers and railway workers leave the room

British nurses, emergency workers and railway workers leave the room

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LONDON – As Britain heads towards the end of the year celebrations, the country is experiencing a prolonged period of industrial unrest, with unions representing workers such as nurses, railway workers and border control workers going on strike at various locations in December.

The strikes come as Britain grapples with high inflation and a cost of living crisis. Many of the strikes have centered around wage increases that workers have been demanding to combat rising prices. The disruption to services like travel and parcel delivery was particularly severe during the holiday season, and residents and tourists alike braced for the impact.

The disruption in services is so intense that the government announced it would hire around 1,200 military personnel to help cover ambulance and border patrol services.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has urged workers’ groups to reconsider the strikes. “I would really hope that union leaders would realize that it is not right to cause such misery and disruption to so many people, especially at Christmas time,” he told a British newspaper.

But opposition Labor Party leader Keir Starmer said the industrial action was a sign of “12 years of Tory failure”.

Here are the workers who will be on strike this month and the likely impact of their strikes:

Thousands of nurses across England, Northern Ireland and Wales walked out on Tuesday over pay and staff shortages – the second strike this month. Nurses had never gone on strike before this month.

The Royal College of Nursing, the union that represents nurses, has called for a 19 per cent pay rise. That’s above the current rate of inflation, but the union says it’s necessary because small increases in the past have made it difficult to attract and retain workers.

The union says it will organize more strikes in January if the government doesn’t hold talks in the next two days. Government officials have said salaries should be set by the National Health Service’s review board, which this summer set a pay rise that was below the union’s demands.

“At the end of the day, this is about the value of nursing,” Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said Tuesday, noting that many nurses sacrificed a day’s wages to go on strike.

Ambulance workers, including paramedics and emergency responders, will stand out for 24 hours on Wednesday to protest working conditions and a 4 percent increase they say represents a real pay cut.

The strike comes amid a near-crisis for UK emergency services, which have already reported record waiting times and increased risk of death. Paramedics also cite staff shortages and burnout, which raise concerns about the risks to patient care.

The National Health Service in England has warned that “significant disruption” is to be expected because of the industrial action. Some hospitals have said non-life-threatening calls can be rerouted and have encouraged people to self-administer to the hospital if possible.

Workers across the UK rail network will go on strike from December 24th to 26th. This year travelers have been hampered by disruption on several occasions as negotiations between unions and railway companies have failed.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, known as the RMT, has called for a pay rise in line with the rise in the cost of living.

This month’s strikes are planned right when millions travel to visit family and friends or visit the UK for tourism. Railway companies have warned services will be reduced across the UK and halted altogether in some areas. Passengers were advised to check the timetables on Christmas Eve in order not to miss the last trains before the holiday.

Network Rail, which monitors Britain’s railways, called the strikes “disappointing” and added that workers had turned down an offer of a pay rise. But Mick Lynch, the RMT’s general secretary, said the offer was “substandard” and the union has criticized the government for not doing more to stop the strikes.

Officials and government workers will also join the strike action, including Border Force staff manning UK entry points at airports and ports. They will go on strike between December 23rd and 31st. The action will affect the country’s busiest airports, including Heathrow, which faces its own possible strike over low wages, which will start on December 29 by its own ground staff. According to the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents government workers, the labor action is about demands for pay rises and job security.

The government has said it will train military personnel, civil servants and other government volunteers to fill gaps during the strike, but said travelers to the UK should prepare for longer waits.

Employees from other government agencies, including labor exchange workers, driver examiners and road traffic officials, have also announced strike dates.

Postal workers will also be getting off on December 23 and 24, and letters will not be delivered on those days. Refuse collectors in some parts of the country are also planning a strike over the Christmas period, while bus drivers in London have planned further strikes into January.

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