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Rishi Sunak proposes talks with UK union leaders to stop strikes

Rishi Sunak proposes talks with UK union leaders to stop strikes

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Rishi Sunak has invited UK union leaders to talks Monday to find a solution to the spate of strikes across the UK.

The PM said ministries had written to relevant unions inviting them to talks.

Workers, including nurses, postal workers and train drivers, have taken industrial action to demand higher wages amid the cost of living crisis.

Sunak had previously said he wanted a “mature conversation” with public sector unions over pay deals that come into effect in the fiscal year beginning next April.

However, the unions are asking ministers to discuss their demands for higher wages for their members in the current financial year.

The prime minister said he wanted to hold talks with unions “about what is affordable, what is reasonable, what is responsible” for the country.

“The most pressing economic priority we have is bringing down the cost of living and getting inflation under control is the best way to do that to bring down the cost of living, not just for nurses but for everyone,” he added.

Ambulance workers and nurses are due to go on strike again this month and the government’s troubles could soon be exacerbated by more strikes affecting the NHS.

The British Medical Association said on Friday young doctors would stage a 72-hour strike in March during which they would not provide emergency care if strikes were approved in a vote opened on Monday.

Meanwhile, teachers’ elections will conclude next week, with strikes affecting schools possible from the end of the month.

Strikes are also spreading in public services, with Unison organizing a day-long strike by Environment Agency workers on January 18, including those maintaining flood defenses.

The unions reacted scornfully to the government’s offer to sit down and discuss evidence that both sides would submit to independent review bodies to inform next year’s public sector pay settlements.

The GMB, which is leading strikes at some emergency services, said unions representing health workers have been invited to meet Health Secretary Steve Barclay “soon” but would only suspend strikes if it made a new offer to settle this year’s dispute pay bill.

Emma Runswick, deputy BMA council chair, said the government’s offer was “ridiculous” because the process of the payroll review body was “not fit for purpose”.

Kate Bell, deputy general secretary of the TUC, said ministers were “making vague threats against the right to strike” rather than working towards a fair settlement of disputes.

Meanwhile, Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, signaled in an interview with Times Radio that she was ready to soften the union’s demand for a 19 per cent pay rise for nurses, urging Barclay “to get into a room.” come and meet me halfway”.

RCN members are due to be phased out for two more days this month and ambulance workers represented by Unison are also on strike for a day.

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