The government is “losing the battle” on strikes, a senior figure at the Royal College of Nursing has claimed, as ministers prepare to hold tough talks with union leaders today to stave off further industrial action.
Patricia Marquis, the director of RCN England, said she believes there is still a “high level of [public] support’ for strikes in the NHS and that the government must ‘come to the table’ and agree an improved salary offer for this year.
Asked if the nurses are losing public support, Ms Marquis told Sky News: “I don’t think we are. The polls we have continued to take show high levels of public support and we know that the majority of people in the UK would like the NHS to deliver all its services but are being urged to take drastic action when they do Consider using private insurance.
“So I don’t think we’re going to lose the fight. I think the government is losing the battle and the government needs to come to the table to have these discussions so that we within the care community can resolve this argument.”
Ministers will hold a series of meetings with union leaders this morning to prevent future wage strikes in the NHS, classrooms and on the railways. Health Secretary Steve Barclay will meet with leaders including from the RCN.
Ministers have stressed that today’s meetings will focus on next year’s collective agreement, despite calls from the union to improve this year’s scheme.
But Rishi Sunak yesterday refused to rule out talks on the current 2022/23 collective agreement, raising hopes from unions that the government might soften their stance.
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