UK nurses' strike over pay, staffing shortages

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UK nurses' strike over pay, staffing shortages

LONDON: We're tired. We're fed up. Ameera, a senior nurse at a London hospital who is going on strike, said we need a pay rise now to make a living.

On Friday, the nurses' first strikes in 106 years were announced, as union leaders and health workers blamed overwork, staff shortages, low pay and the cost-of-living crisis.

Ameera, who asked not to use her full name, said that they had not taken lightly industrial action. We tried to negotiate, but we can't settle this in any other way. The public and politicians applauded doctors and nurses for their efforts during the COVID 19 crisis. Ameera said that some of them paid the ultimate price.

I had a few of my colleagues who passed away from COVID 19, Ameera told AFP.

They have families and they gave their life to work for the NHS National Health Service and for what? Why is the world and government clapping for us? Overwork, stress and shrinking real-term wages - already a problem even before COVID 19 -- have driven morale among nurses to rock bottom, she said.

During the Pandemic, I worked night shifts for a solid three months, said Ameera.

It traumatised me so much that I didn't see any daylight at all. Ameera took time off for stress, returning as a non-contracted nurse who could choose her hours. That meant sacrificing benefits such as annual leave and a pension.

Other disillusioned nurses left and never returned, leaving a staffing void that has yet to be filled.

48,000 nursing positions are now vacant because of post-Brexit immigration rules and tight labour market.

Some nurses are leaving to join agencies, where they are drafted back in to cover shifts at higher wages, she said.