Nursing strikes: How Scottish and Welsh Labour operate from different planets

Good news for BBC Scotland

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With the news that nurses who are members of the RCN have rejected the Scottish Government’s improved pay offer, it’s worth reflecting on this from the BBC News website’s Wales section a few days ago: ‘Nurses’ pay: More strikes promised as Drakeford defends offer’.

At the end of my post, the reaction of Labour to the latest RCN news in Scotland is compared and contrasted. But first to Wales.: in the BBC article we learn a lot about the Welsh Government’s current response to the industrial disputes across the NHS. Of course that is the Labour Party in government having to respond within its range of devolved powers. Here are extracts, with my emphasis:

‘WELSH MINISTERS DECIDED AGAINST A BETTER PAY OFFER FOR NURSES to help protect NHS spending, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said. He said his government could have raised taxes or redirected money from its own budget to increase nurses’ pay.
But he argued that would have “meant fewer treatments, fewer nurses, less money for the health service”.

‘THE WELSH GOVERNMENT HAS OFFERED NHS STAFF A PAY RISE OF BETWEEN 4% AND 5.5%, but nurses are seeking a 19% increase.’

BBC Wales helpfully provides readers with important context before expanding on the Welsh FM’s position: ‘THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE WELSH GOVERNMENT’S BUDGET COMES FROM THE UK TREASURY, WITH SPENDING DECISIONS IN AREAS LIKE THE NHS AND EDUCATION IN ENGLAND DIRECTLY AFFECTING THE AMOUNT OF MONEY TRANSFERRED TO WALES.

‘Mr Drakeford said: “It is simply the truth that the amount of money we get for public services and pay in Wales is A CONSEQUENCE OF THE DECISIONS THAT ENGLISH MINISTERS MAKE FOR ENGLAND.”

“That is just the way the system is,” he told BBC Politics Wales. Mr Drakeford was asked if his government was abdicating responsibility for public sector pay in Wales by ARGUING IT COULD NOT MAKE A BETTER OFFER WITHOUT EXTRA CASH FROM WESTMINSTER. “I think we can only be accountable for the decisions that genuinely lie in our hands and we should be held accountable,” he said.

“We could’ve taken the £120m out of the money available to run the health service and to pay nurses that money instead. THAT WOULD’VE MEANT FEWER TREATMENTS, FEWER NURSES, LESS MONEY FOR THE HEALTH SERVICE ITSELF. Now, you could say we should’ve done that. We chose not to, we’re accountable for that decision. We could’ve raised taxes – we chose not to do so,” he added.’

The article then gives an insight into the (misguided IMHO) attitude of the RCN in Wales: ‘Union boss Helen Whyley, from the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, said A WALES-ONLY SOLUTION WAS NEEDED RATHER THAN BLAMING UK GOVERNMENT FUNDING. “This is a Welsh problem,” she told BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement. “I’m talking about Welsh nurses in Welsh hospitals, in Welsh communities. We need to find a Wales solution to this to move forward.”
Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-64011170

The Scotland section of the BBC News website has just published a article on rejection of the Scottish Government’s pay offer by the RCN: ‘Nurses in Scotland to strike after rejecting pay deal from NHS’. It includes quotes of unsurprising but still breathtaking hypocrisy from opposition politicians!

Firstly, from the party whose government in Westminster steadfastly refuses to engage in NHS pay negotiations: ‘Scottish Conservative health spokesperson, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, called on Mr Yousaf to “immediately get back round the table” with the RCN to prevent strike action going ahead.’

But if you think that’s bad, recall what is reported above about the Labour government in Wales and then ‘reflect’ on this:

‘… Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said THE HEALTH SECRETARY SHOULD STEP DOWN. She said: “Under the SNP, Scotland’s heroic nursing staff have been pushed to breaking point. We are already in the midst of a full-blown winter crisis, with lives being risked on a daily basis. It’s time that Humza Yousaf does THE RIGHT THING AND RESIGNS.”

We know well from decades of evidence what to expect from Tories. But, candidly, there are now some leading politicians in the Labour Party in Scotland that can no longer disappoint: they just continue to be repellent due to their base political values and tactics.

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9 thoughts on “Nursing strikes: How Scottish and Welsh Labour operate from different planets

  1. Scottish nurses THINKING AS THEIR ENGLISH COUNTERPARTS
    SO MUST FACE SAME CONSEQUENCES AS ENGLISH NURSES
    WESTMINSTER PAY SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT yearly AMOUNT
    BASED ON GERS AND THE. CORRUPT U.K. GOV

    SO SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY MORE THAN ALREADY OFFERED
    ONLY ALTERNATIVE IS TO DEPEND ON WESTMINSTER FOR ADDITIONAL CASH
    TO BE ABLE TO PAY EXTRA PAY TO ALL NURSES

    SIMPLE

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tories cutting essential workers. Spendingmobey on Trident. HS2, Hickley Point etc. £Billions wasted. Including Scottish funds. The Tories spent £918Billion 2019/20 but claim not to have enough to pay essential workers,

    Total corruption.

    Like

  3. And what about the Labour Party in government’s response to pay claims from teachers in Wales? On 1 December, the Wales section of the BBC News website had this headline: ‘ Wales’ education: Teacher pressure sparks staffing fears’.

    We are told that the National Headteachers Union Cymru said below-inflation pay awards were compounding the problem. The BBC reports THE WELSH LABOUR GOVERNMENT’S EDUCATION MINISTER JEREMY MILES STATING THAT HE DID NOT “HAVE THE RESOURCES” TO INCREASE PAY BEYOND THE 5% RISE OFFERED IN JULY. (my emphasis)

    Interestingly, and unlike BBC Scotland, BBC Wales introduces context and perspective from an expert third party: ‘Gareth Evans, the director of education policy at University of Wales Trinity St Davids, said TEACHER RETENTION AND RECRUITMENT IS AN ISSUE ACROSS WALES, AND IN FACT THE UK. Speaking with BBC Radio Wales Breakfast, Mr Evans said he believes there is a looming crisis, if not one already.

    ‘Mr Evans states: Education isn’t immune from challenges facing the rest of the public sectors; shrinking budgets, scarcity of resources, fewer staff, the cost of living crisis, pay awards well below inflation, throw in legitimate work flow concerns related to the new curriculum and I think a hangover from Covid with it, and I do think we have something of a challenging situation on our hands.

    “It’s perhaps little wonder that teachers are in some cases reconsidering their positions and those seeking to become teachers are potentially looking for other jobs, BUT I DON’T THINK IT’S ALL DOOM AND GLOOM BY A LONG STRETCH AND WE MUST REMEMBER THE POSITIVES.”

    ‘Mr Evans said the positives included competitive starting salaries, strong career development opportunities and having the power to change a child’s life for the better, adding ‘I THINK REALLY WHAT WE NEED TO DO IN WALES IS CHANGE THE NARRATIVE.

    “The Welsh government, trade unions, and even teachers themselves on occasion are all guilty of perhaps SELLING A MORE NEGATIVE PICTURE OF THE PROFESSION when I think we could all do a slightly better job of selling the positives.”

    Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-63800954

    And published on 14 November 2022 at Wales Online: ‘The Welsh Government has confirmed that the pay rise for teachers will be 5% leaving the door open for industrial action. EDUCATION MINISTER JEREMY MILES HAS CONFIRMED THAT THE PAY RAISE OF TEACHERS WILL BE 5%, FIRST DISCUSSED IN THE SUMMER, WHICH UNIONS HAVE DESCRIBED AS AN “INSULT”.

    ‘In his statement Mr Miles said that he accepted “that some may be disappointed that a higher award could not be provided and recognise the legitimate right of all workers to seek a fair and decent pay rise during this challenging time of inflation and cost of living rises.”

    ‘HE BLAMED WESTMINSTER for not providing enough funds adding: “AS ADDITIONAL FUNDING HAS NOT BEEN MADE AVAILABLE BY THE UK GOVERNMENT, WE ARE NOT IN A POSITION TO FURTHER ADDRESS THESE ISSUES OVER AND ABOVE WHAT HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN CONSIDERED. The Welsh Government’s budget will be worth £4bn less over the three years of the current settlement – £1.5bn lower next year.

    “This is before the much touted further budgetary cuts the UK Government claims it will make imminently. WITHIN THIS CONTEXT, IT IS SIMPLY UNAFFORDABLE, AND WOULD BE IRRESPONSIBLE, TO PROPOSE HIGHER PAY RISES. WE REPEAT OUR CALLS FOR THE UK GOVERNMENT TO FINALLY DO THE RIGHT THING and act urgently to restore Wales’s budget so that we can support our public services.”

    ‘It seems more likely that strike action could follow this announcement as unions had demanded a 12% payrise. Mr Miles has previously said 12% WOULD COST MORE THAN £100M AND THAT FINDING THAT WOULD LEAD TO CUTS IN EDUCATION COMPARABLE TO THE LOSS OF 1,600 FULL-TIME TEACHING POSITIONS’.

    From the Scotland page of the BBC News website on 22 November there is this headline: ‘Teachers’ strike in Scotland to go ahead as new pay offer rejected’

    ‘Scotland’s biggest union of teachers will take industrial action on Thursday after a new pay offer was dismissed as “insulting”. Employer COSLA MADE THE FRESH PROPOSAL WHICH WILL SEE RISES OF UP TO 6.85%. IT WAS AN IMPROVEMENT ON THE PREVIOUS OFFER OF 5% but still well below the 10% the unions want.’

    And then the BBC shares with readers the ‘distinctive’ tone of the EIS leadership: ‘The EIS said its salaries committee unanimously rejected the offer in a special online meeting on Tuesday. Its general secretary Andrea Bradley. “Our members will see this offer for exactly what it is – A KICK IN THE TEETH from their employers and the Scottish government,” she added.’

    The BBC News website had this headline a few days ago: ‘Teachers’ strikes: What are they paid and will schools close?’

    It included this: ‘In Scotland, teachers rejected a 5% increase, arguing for 10%. A new offer designed to prevent national strikes included rises of up to 6.85% for the lowest paid.’ And the BBC then reports this: ‘Last year, STATE SCHOOL CLASSROOM TEACHERS IN ENGLAND WERE PAID AN AVERAGE OF £38,982. THIS COMPARES WITH £39,009 IN WALES AND £40,026 IN SCOTLAND. Northern Ireland’s government did not provide a figure.’

    In the Daily Record on 10 November there was an article headlined: ‘Schools in Scotland set to close as teachers vote for strike action over pay dispute’.

    Commenting on the EIS’ rejection of the then 5% pay offer (subsequently increased) , Labour MSP Michael Marra said: “Years of SNP mismanagement and neglect are AT THE ROOT OF THIS DECISIVE RESULT. Teachers have been going above and beyond to deliver the education recovery children and young people so badly need, and THIS SHOULD BE RECOGNISED.

    “No-one wants strikes in schools, but pupils and teachers alike are being failed by the SNP’s catastrophic lack of leadership. THE EDUCATION SECRETARY NEEDS TO GET ROUND THE TABLE WITH A FAIR DEAL FOR TEACHERS AND FOR SCHOOLS BEFORE STRIKE CHAOS HITS.”

    To repeat, Scottish and Welsh Labour ‘operate from different planets’ and it should be increasingly clear to left-leaning, progressive voters in Scotland which leadership of this political party merits respect and which most definitely does not!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Tory ideology is responsible for the inflation which is currently driving workers pay demands.
    Brexit and privatisation of essential energy supplies are the root cause of the present economic disaster and it is up to them to fix it,not the devolved governments who have neither the means nor responsibility to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

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