British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was urged on Wednesday to reach a deal with nurses planning a massive strike-Zamkuwire - Zamkuwire.com

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was urged on Wednesday to reach a deal with nurses planning a massive strike-Zamkuwire

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UK opposition chief urges gov't to reach deal with nurses to avert strike

 

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was urged on Wednesday to reach a deal with nurses planning a massive strike, as the leader of the opposition Labour party said the walkout would be “a badge of shame for this government.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions in parliament, Keir Starmer asked Sunak why he had not met with unions to stop the strikes — the biggest in the National Health Service (NHS) history.

Nurses in in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are set to go on strike on Dec. 15 and Dec. 20 over a pay dispute with the government.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the world’s largest nurses union, said it had been given no other choice after the government said their demand for a 19% pay raise was unaffordable.

“Instead of showing leadership, he’s playing games with people’s health. And there is a human cost,” said Starmer, questioning Sunak on how he planned to resolve the strike.

In response, Sunak accused Starmer of being too “weak” to stand up to trade unions saying: “The honorable gentleman says to get round the table but we all know what that means. That is just simply a political formula for avoiding taking a position on this issue.”

“If he thinks the strikes are wrong, he should say so. If he thinks it is right that pay demands of 19% are met, then he should say so. What is weak is he is not strong enough to stand up to the unions.”

Sunak further defended the government policy, saying they were already investing billions of more pounds into the NHS.

“We’re already hiring thousands more doctors and nurses. But, if he (Starmer) asked about backlogs in the waiting time to the NHS, then yes. What he always fails to acknowledge is the impact that COVID did. That’s why we’re facing pressures,” said the premier.

“If we listened to him, the backlog would still be growing and that’s because we would still be in lockdown,” he added.

Migration plans

Meanwhile, conservative lawmaker Danny Kruger asked Sunak whether the UK was prepared to leave European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which he said was “limiting our ability to control our borders” in an age of mass migration.

“In light of the tragedy in the channel this morning, does the prime minister agree he should do as Churchill did, draft a new framework for refugees and human rights,” said Kruger, adding that, if necessary, the UK should be prepared to leave the ECHR.

Four people died when a migrant boat capsized off the coast of Kent, the British authorities confirmed on Wednesday.

As many as 43 people were saved after the incident, which prompted joint search and rescue efforts by the UK and France in the English Channel.

In response to Kruger’s question, Sunak vowed to deliver legislation that an illegal arrival in the UK would be removed to their own country or a safe third country alternative.

Sunak’s government recently introduced new immigration policies after weeks of criticism over rising numbers of small boat arrivals from France.

“That is the system that the British people want to see. That’s the system that we will deliver and I look forward to hearing whether the party opposite will support it.”

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