Top Stories: Nurses Pay Deal Struck, New Raab Bullying Accusations, Braverman Travels to Rwanda
Royal College of Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen joins members on the picket line. (Alamy)
The government has reached a deal with unions for nurses following months of the biggest strike action by nurses in NHS history.
Nurses had paused planned strikes in order for talks to take place after the government agreed to engage in serious negotiations.
The deal – which includes a 5 per cent pay rise from April, and a one-off payment of at least £1,655 – was accepted by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), UNISON, GMB, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the British Dietetic Association on Thursday.
The unions will now recommend the deal to their members, who will have the final say.
Rachel Harrison, national secretary of the GMB union, said: “Thanks to the strength and hard work of GMB’s NHS members, the government has gone from refusing to talk about pay this year to putting an extra £2.5 billion on the table.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has welcomed the deal, and said it "is right that we reward our hardworking NHS staff".
“I’m really pleased that after several weeks of constructive talks, the government and the Agenda for Change unions have come to an agreement that will provide a fair deal for NHS staff and put disruptive strike action behind us," he said.
Health secretary Steve Barclay also welcomed the deal and said he hugely admires "the incredible work of NHS staff".
“This offer will give nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists and other non-medical staff a fair pay rise while protecting our commitment to halve inflation.
“We have engaged in constructive and meaningful discussions with unions and NHS Employers and I look forward to continuing our work together to make the NHS a better place to work.”
However one of the UK’s biggest unions, Unite, said they would not be recommending the offer to their members, who will be asked if they wish to accept the deal.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The offer from government is not one that Unite can recommend to our members, but ultimately it is important that our members make the final decision. Unite will support members in whichever decision they now make. As Unite members are being consulted, strike action will be paused.
“It is clear that this government does not hold the interest of workers or the NHS at heart. Their behaviour and disdain for NHS workers and workers generally is clear from their actions.”
The deal with nurses will put further pressure on the government to reach pay deals with other public sector workers striking including junior doctors, teachers, and civil servants.
Junior doctors staged their biggest ever strike action this week in a three day walk out, calling for a 35 per cent pay rise after more than a decade of falling real terms wages.
New Dominic Raab Bullying Accusations Emerge
More bullying accusations against deputy prime minister and justice secretary Dominic Raab’s behaviour have emerged – with Sky News reporting claims he “ruined people's lives" through "coercive behaviour".
In November last year, several complaints were lodged about Raab’s behaviour when he served as a cabinet secretary under Boris Johnson.
Allegations included him “losing his temper” and leaving staff afraid to enter the office; other allegations subsequently emerged including claims he threw food across the room and created a “culture of fear” in the workplace.
Raab denies all of the allegations of bullying, and has said that he conducted himself "professionally at all times".
The investigation into Raab’s behaviour, which was launched by Rishi Sunak when allegations first started emerging publicly in November, is set to reach its conclusion shortly.
Last month, Raab said he would resign if the investigation finds that he did bully staff.
“If an allegation of bullying is upheld, I would resign,” Raab told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday in February.
Suella Braverman Travels To Rwanda
Home Secretary Suella Braverman is travelling to Rwanda today to meet government officials from the country to discuss the UK’s asylum seeker deportation deal.
The policy, which seeks to remove asylum seekers arriving to the UK via non-authorised routes to Rwanda for assessment and settlement, was announced by former prime minister Boris Johnson and former home secretary Priti Patel last year when they were in government.
So far the £140m scheme has failed to remove anyone due to a string of legal changes – and was dramatically blocked by the European Court of Human Rights.
It also appears to have done little to tackle the number of people crossing the channel last year, with more than 40,000 arriving via the route in 2022; the government had claimed the hardline scheme would act as a deterrent for people attempting to reach the UK.
Sunak has made stopping the boats crossing the Channel one of the five priorities for his government.
The controversial Illegal Migration bill, passed through the Commons for its first reading this week – which would give the government the powers to swiftly detain, remove, and ban asylum seekers for life arriving to the UK via non-authorised routes while also preventing them from access to the UK’s modern slavery protections.
The government argues the hardline approach will deter people and people smugglers from making the dangerous crossing across the Channel.
However, in a significant intervention, former prime minister Theresa May this week said: "Anybody who thinks that this bill will deal with the issue of illegal migration once and for all is wrong."
Labour MP Yvette Cooper, shadow Home Secretary, said the policy would “enable” modern day slavery and “make the chaos worse” at the Home Office – which is plagued with severe backlogs and a lack of accommodation to house asylum seekers.
Like the Rwanda scheme, however, it is likely to be subjected to a long list of legal challenges due to its attempts to make the detention and removal of asylum seekers faster and easier by curtailing their human rights.
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