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Nurses to vote on England-wide strike action after rejecting 5% pay rise | Politics News

Nurses will vote on whether to hold England-wide strike action later this month after rejecting the government’s 5% pay rise.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members have held a series of strikes over the past six months and while 14 health unions last week agreed to a 5% pay rise, the nurses union rejected the offer.

Their previous six-month mandate to hold strikes ended last Monday.

The new ballot will open on 23 May and close on 23 June, the union said on Tuesday.

Pat Cullen, head of the RCN, told MPs on Tuesday: “I would really urge the Secretary of State to get into the room this week with the Royal College of Nursing about pay and other issues.

“Let’s not push our members to ballot on 23 May for another six months.”

If nurses vote for further strike action this time it could mean every NHS trust in England where RCN members are employed could take industrial action for the first time.

To achieve a country-wide mandate, 50% of all eligible members must vote and the majority must say “yes” to strike action.

In an email to RCN members, Ms Cullen said: “Every day, patients are at risk due to chronic staffing shortages. The government has tried to turn people against us by saying strikes are unsafe.

“But it’s their failure to invest in nursing that has made our wards unsafe.

“Record waiting lists, people left for hours in A&E, staff forced to treat patients in corridors – it’s all been caused by tens of thousands of nursing vacancies, not by our strikes.”

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Nurses’ strikes could last ‘until Xmas’

Last week, Unison, GMB, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists and the Royal College of Midwives were among the 14 unions who supported the 5% pay offer, plus a cash top-up.

Unite and the RCN both rejected the offer, with Unite saying it would take “escalating” action during the short period of time they have left as part of their mandate to strike.

Unite will also re-ballot its members on whether to continue taking action.

Douglas Ross: Row erupts as Scottish Tory leader suggests people should vote Labour to oust SNP | Politics News

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has suggested that Tories should vote Labour in the next election, prompting fury from his party’s Westminster HQ.

Douglas Ross said people should “do what’s best for the country” and support the candidate most likely to beat the SNP in their constituency – and in many Scottish seats, it is likely to be Labour or even the Lib Dems who are the most serious threat to the Scottish nationalists.

Mr Ross said he wants to loosen the SNP’s grip on Scotland, adding that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer should also be looking “a bit beyond their own narrow party agenda” in favour of keeping the UK together.

He told The Sunday Telegraph: “The public know how to tactically vote in Scotland.

“I will always encourage Scottish Conservative voters to vote Scottish Conservatives, but I think generally the public can see and they want the parties to accept that where there is a strongest candidate to beat the SNP you get behind that candidate.

“If parties maybe look beyond their own narrow party agenda and do what’s best for the country and for me as Scottish Conservative leader what would be best is if we see this grip that the SNP have on Scotland at the moment is loosened.”

But a Tory spokesman in Westminster insisted that tactical voting was not the official position south of the border, saying: “This is emphatically not the view of the Conservative Party.

“We want people to vote for Conservative candidates wherever they are standing as that’s the best way to keep Labour and the SNP out.”

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The news comes just weeks before the local elections, where Mr Sunak and his party are expected to lose more than 1,000 seats, according to a recent report in the Daily Mirror.

This would be a blow to the impression he is trying to give of a prime minister repairing the reputation of the Conservatives.

East of England ambulance workers vote to strike | UK News

Almost 1,000 East of England ambulance workers have voted to strike in a dispute over pay and staffing, the GMB union says.

Paramedics, emergency medical technicians, call handlers and other staff are set to walk out in the region.

The union said its members voted by an 86% majority for industrial action.

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) is the only service not to have been on strike in the latest wave of action.

Workers across the ambulance service have voted to strike over a pay dispute with the government.

The GMB union will meet with representatives in the coming days to discuss potential strike dates for the EEAS workers.

The union said its members are determined to campaign for better pay and are “furious” over the government’s “apparent attempts to smear” them over life and limb cover on strike days.

GMB organiser Lola McEvoy said: “East of England was the only ambulance trust in the country not to have been on strike – that will now change.

“As industrial action spreads to all corners of England, the Scottish and Welsh Governments have begun constructive talks with the GMB and seen walkouts suspended.

“Ministers in England don’t seem to want to listen, leaving NHS workers and the English public being treated like second-class citizens.

“It’s simple – talk pay now and make a decent offer for this year. Our members and the public are waiting.”

Read more:
Strikes: Who is taking industrial action in 2023 and when?

Ambulance workers across large parts of England and Wales have taken strike action in recent weeks and another walkout is planned on Friday by members of Unison.

It comes after nurses continued with their industrial action today after walking out on Monday alongside paramedics and call handlers in what was the largest strike in NHS history.

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 civil servants are to strike on budget day in an escalation of a dispute over pay, pensions and job security.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has announced a new strike date of 15 March, when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is due to unveil his spring budget.

It follows a strike last week that saw hundreds of thousands of members in 123 government departments walk out across England, Scotland and Wales.

Faction of Tory members feel ‘disconnected’ after being ‘denied a vote’ when Rishi Sunak became PM, ex-party chair says | Politics News

A proportion of Conservative members feel “disconnected” from the party as they were “denied a vote” when Rishi Sunak became prime minister, a former Tory chairman said.

Sir Jake Berry, who was chair under Liz Truss, said Mr Sunak should have held an “endorsement vote” to show he had the support of the membership.

Instead, Mr Sunak automatically became PM after Boris Johnson and Penny Mordaunt dropped out of the contest to replace Liz Truss and Mr Sunak passed the 100-nomination threshold, leaving him as the only remaining candidate.

As a result, there is a “perception”, Sir Jake said, that Tory MPs are “disconnected from our membership”.

Mr Sunak entered Downing Street just weeks after coming second to Ms Truss in the summer leadership contest after Tory members voted for her over him – despite MPs being in favour of him.

“I actually think it’s a great pity for Rishi Sunak that we didn’t have a vote of members,” Sir Jake told GB News.

“Because in the summer, fine Conservative that he is, he struggled actually to get the support of Conservative Party members – as, funnily enough, did Jeremy Hunt in the previous leadership election.

Minister without portfolio in the Cabinet Office Jake Berry during day three of the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. Picture date: Tuesday October 4, 2022.
Sir Jake Berry was party chairman under Liz Truss

“And I think even though he absolutely got the majority of the Conservative members of parliament – and I support him as prime minister in everything he does – the challenge he has is, even if it’s not true, there’s a perception of the Conservative Parliamentary Party now being disconnected from our membership.”

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Sir Jake added that he thinks Mr Sunak “would have won it well” if a vote had gone to the membership.

But, he said a narrative has been allowed to develop about members being “denied that vote”.

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‘War room’ in the dying days of Truss leadership

The former Northern Powerhouse minister revealed what the last days of the Truss premiership were like.

He was part of a “war room” in Number 10, with Ms Truss, ex-chief whip Wendy Morton and former deputy PM Therese Coffey who were all trying to stabilise her leadership after the now-infamous mini-budget.

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Sunak becomes prime minister

Just before Ms Truss resigned, Sir Jake said “two of the most senior civil servants in the Treasury” tried to press him on “why there could be no long, protracted leadership election in the Conservative Party”.

“They asked me at the end of it, ‘Do you agree?’,” he said.

“And I said, ‘Well, I hope you don’t mind me saying, I don’t really think it’s any of your business, as civil servants, about how political parties choose their leader’.”

Amazon workers vote to strike at a UK depot for the first time | Business News

Amazon workers at a UK depot have voted to strike for the first time.

Employees at the warehouse in Coventry will walk out in the new year over what the GMB union said was a pay offer increase of 50p an hour.

It comes after more than 98% of workers voted to strike on a turnout of more than 63%, adding to the number of British employees walking out this winter.

Union boss blasts ‘completely inadequate’ pay offer – latest strikes updates

GMB senior organiser Amanda Gearing said the workers had “made history”, as they would become the first UK Amazon warehouse staff ever to take part in a formal strike.

“The fact that they are being forced to go on strike to win a decent rate of pay from one of the world’s most valuable companies should be a badge of shame for Amazon,” she added.

“Amazon can afford to do better. It’s not too late to avoid strike action; get round the table with GMB to improve the pay and conditions of workers.”

The vote was announced on another day of strikes disruption across the UK, with railway staff walking out again, alongside bus and highways workers.

It comes after striking nurses took part in the first NHS-wide walkout on Thursday.

Read more:
All you need to know about the UK’s winter of strikes

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What is industrial action?

An Amazon spokesperson insisted the company offered “competitive pay”.

“We appreciate the great work our teams do throughout the year, and we’re proud to offer competitive pay which starts at a minimum of between £10.50 and £11.45 per hour, depending on location,” they said.

“This represents a 29% increase in the minimum hourly wage paid to Amazon employees since 2018.

“Employees are also offered comprehensive benefits that are worth thousands more-including private medical insurance, life assurance, subsidised meals and an employee discount, to name a few.

“On top of this, we’re pleased to have announced that full-time, part-time and seasonal frontline employees will receive an additional one-time special payment of up to £500 as an extra thank you.”

Amazon is one of the most valuable companies in the world, with a market cap of $880bn (£723.1bn).

But like many big tech firms, it has announced plans to lay off thousands of employees amid lacklustre growth forecasts across much of the industry.

Firefighters to vote on strike action after rejecting 5% pay offer | Politics News

Firefighters will start voting on strike in the latest industrial dispute over below-inflation pay offers.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the “historic ballot” comes after its members rejected a 5% increase to their wages.

The FBU pointed out that inflation currently stands at a record 11.1% and said firefighters and control staff need a “substantial pay increase” that reflects the cost of living crisis.

Politics latest: Matt Hancock to face MPs after jungle stint

Matt Wrack, the Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said: “This is an historic ballot for firefighters and control staff. We are rarely driven to these lengths.

“Nobody wants to be in this position. After years of derisory pay increases and a pay offer that is well below inflation, firefighters’ and control staff’s living standards are in peril.”

Mr Wrack said firefighters are using foodbanks and “we know that because FBU officials have had to sign off on members going to them”.

He added: “Firefighters and control staff worked throughout the pandemic and firefighters took on extra duties including moving the deceased.

“They have now been given a below-inflation pay offer. It is utterly disgraceful to call people ‘key workers’ and then treat them like this.”

Last week, the union warned it would formally issue notice of ballot if its demands were not met by Monday.

With that deadline now passed, members will have from 5 December to 30 January to vote on whether to go on strike

The FBU noted that the government has “no direct role in pay negotiations”, but they do “provide a substantial amount of the funding for fire and rescue services”.

Pay negotiations happen with representatives from employers – typically local authorities.

However, the FBU insists “a big factor in all of this is central funding”.

The ballot comes as the UK faces a winter of discontent as workers from different industries are set to walk out over pay and conditions.

Read More:
Which industries are striking and why

Nurses, rail workers, civil servants and teachers are among the tens of thousands expected to take industrial action as a recession grips the UK and the cost of living rises.

Ministers have insisted they cannot afford to give striking workers inflation-busting pay rises.

But Labour have criticised the government for refusing to negotiate with unions.

‘Scope for agreement’ on rail dispute

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‘Inflation-busting pay rises are unaffordable’

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are due to stage a fresh wave of strikes next month at Network Rail and 14 train operators which will cripple services.

Disputes over pay, jobs and conditions remain deadlocked despite months of talks and industrial action.

In a letter to RMT boss Mick Lynch, published today, Transport Secretary Mark Harper insisted his role is to “facilitate and support, not negotiate”.

“Negotiations will continue between trade unions and employers, but I can see scope for agreement,” he said.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Steve Barclay insisted yesterday that his “door is open” to resume talks with health unions to avert unprecedented strike action in the NHS.

But Pat Cullen, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing union (RCN) , accused the government of being the main obstacle to a deal and choosing “strike over negotiation”.

Matt Hancock defies expectations by surviving another I’m A Celebrity public vote | Ents & Arts News

Matt Hancock has made it to the final four I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! contestants, after comedian Seann Walsh became the seventh person to be eliminated from the reality TV show.

The former health secretary, Mike Tindall, Jill Scott and Owen Warner are now left in the running to be crowned king or queen of the jungle.

The MP for West Suffolk has faced criticism from opposition politicians, from within his own party, and other I’m A Celeb contestants for joining the show at a time when parliament is sitting – but Walsh has voiced his support for the former cabinet minister.

Speaking to Ant and Dec, hosts of the ITV show, after his exit, Walsh described Hancock, 44, as a “lovely guy” and said “he’s still in there for a reason”.

“No one was expecting Matt Hancock to be there,” he added.

Walsh and Hancock entered the Australian jungle together as they joined as undercover moles after the other celebrities had arrived.

They then had to undertake a series of missions in secret before revealing they were the moles to the other campmates, earning them treats.

Seann Walsh in I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!
Seann Walsh has been booted out. Pic: ITV

“We all listened to each other in there,” Walsh said on Friday evening.

“I don’t know if that is common in the jungle… and everyone kind of got their story out and there was so much support and I feel like everyone in there, not just for me, but I think we all accepted one another for who we are today.”

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Walsh revealed he wanted former England player Scott to win the whole show.

Earlier on Friday following DJ Chris Moyles’ elimination, Hancock told the Bush Telegraph: “We’re so near the end and I’m delighted to be still here.

“I never thought I’d make it to the final five and here I am, so I’m very grateful.”

Matt Hancock tells I’m A Celebrity campmates winning campsite leader vote ‘more than makes up for’ losing to Boris | Ents & Arts News

Matt Hancock has said being voted leader of the I’m A Celebrity campsite “more than makes up for” losing to Boris Johnson in the 2019 Tory Party leadership election.

The 44-year-old MP was among those who threw their hat into the ring to replace Theresa May in Number 10, but withdrew part way through the contest before putting his support behind Mr Johnson.

Sunday’s episode of I’m A Celebrity saw him receive enough votes from the public to enter a head-to-head with former England rugby star Mike Tindall for control of the campsite.

The former health secretary recruited ITV broadcaster Charlene White, who he has previously clashed with over his breaking of COVID-19 guidance during the pandemic, and they were triumphant in a challenge that saw them working together to switch on a series of lights.

Ahead of the task, Tindall joked: “If I went home, and I’d lost to Matt Hancock, I’d be in so much s**t.”

Hancock then told White: “We are definitely the underdogs”, before she replied: “Did you go into the leadership challenge thinking you were the underdog?”


After their win, Hancock declared: “Obviously, it’s a great honour and privilege to be camp leader. I want to thank everybody who voted for me.”

White asked: “Does this win feel sweet, especially after you lost to Boris? Do you feel like you have been vindicated?”, to which he replied: “This more than makes up for it.”

However, their success prompted soap star Sue Cleaver, Tindall’s would-be deputy, to remark: “We now have a dictatorship…”

Hancock and White were then charged with assigning their campmates to chores while remaining exempt and getting the chance to sleep inside the RV – a step up from the campsite.

'I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!' TV Show, Series 22, Australia - 13 Nov 2022
Matt Scorpion - Matt Hancock

13 Nov 2022
Hancock was stung by a scorpion on Sunday, but luckily it wasn’t deadly

Earlier in the episode, Hancock was stung by a scorpion which “unexpectedly” nipped him on the finger. He later told his fellow contestants: “It was so painful… It hurts a lot, and I’m feeling slightly dizzy.”

He was seen by a medic straight away, with TV presenter and property expert Scarlette Douglas later joking in the Bush Telegraph: “He looked like he wanted to cry.”

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Snakes and offal

Hancock was voted to become leader of the campsite after facing his fifth consecutive trial, House of Horrors, in which he had to crawl through a giant doll’s house full of pigeons, snakes and troughs full of offal, searching for stars to feed the camp.

Asked by co-host Declan Donnelly why he thought the public kept voting for him to take part in the gruelling trials, Hancock responded: “It must be the facial expressions.”

Facing his fear of snakes, the Tory MP located nine out of the 11 stars on offer, despite a snake attempting to strike him at eye level.

After returning triumphant to camp, he admitted: “I was absolutely shi**ing myself.”

The episode also saw former England footballer Jill Scott recalling playing football aged five and how her grandmother had predicted her success.

Attwood’s blood test

Olivia Attwood. Pic: ITV
Olivia Attwood. Pic: ITV

It comes after former Love Island contestant Olivia Attwood revealed she was forced to withdraw from the show after a routine blood test showed she was anaemic.

The test, which all the contestants undergo randomly throughout the show, also suggested low sodium and potassium levels, prompting staff to immediately take her to hospital.

Attwood, 31, disclosed the reason for her departure after only 24 hours in the Australian jungle in an interview with the Mail On Sunday.

However, she also said her tests at the hospital and back in the UK produced normal results.

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Hancock drenched in slime

A show spokesman said: “As a precautionary measure, Olivia needed to leave the jungle to undergo some medical checks.

“Unfortunately, the medical team has advised it is not safe for Olivia to return to camp as there needs to be further investigation.

“She has been absolutely brilliant, and she’ll be very much missed on the show.”