The UK is entering a period of major disruption. Nurses are striking for fair pay for the first time ever this week. Paramedics will walk out next week with soldiers being drafted in to drive ambulances.
Physiotherapists in the NHS have voted to strike, as have midwives in Wales, while junior doctors are balloting on whether to strike.
All of these workers are battling to keep the NHS running through one of the worst winter crises ever (as they did through Covid).
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However record numbers are leaving the health service because of stress and low pay, following years of government neglect. 1 in 4 hospitals have set up food banks for their staff.
The strikes have been called because, on top of all of this, NHS workers have been offered pay ‘rises’ well below the rate of inflation. This means that their real pay will fall.
The government is refusing to negotiate. Ministers have repeatedly said there’s no money available to protect NHS workers’ wages. This isn’t true.
How to raise £37bn
The UK is a wealthy country, home to some of the world’s richest people. Taxing the wealth of multi-millionaires could fund a pay increase for NHS workers – and protect the health service into the future. As our analysis shows, £37bn could be raised from wealth taxes alone.
The government knows this. They know that wealth taxes could be introduced on the super rich. They know this money could be used to pay nurses and other public sector workers properly. They know the strikes could be averted.
And yet they choose not to tax wealth.
Doing nothing as the UK enters huge industrial disputes is a political choice on the part of the government.
They are to blame for the disruption and upheavals that will be felt in the coming weeks and we must hold them to account.