LONDON, England: Two strikes, on December 15 and 20, are planned by British nurses seeking more pay, their union announced last week.
The planned strikes by the National Health Service nurses follows the government refusing to grant a 5 percent raise above inflation to the nurses.
If the nurses go on strike, it would mark the the first walkout in the nurses' union's 106-year history.
"Nursing staff have had enough of being taken for granted, enough of low pay and unsafe staffing levels, enough of not being able to give our patients the care they deserve," Royal College of Nursing General Secretary Pat Cullen said, according to Reuters.
Cullen noted that in the two weeks since the union declared they were prepared to strike, the government has declined to participate in formal negotiations.
Meanwhile, British Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the nurses' demands would, in reality, result in a 19.2 percent pay raise costing $12.13 billion per year. Barclay said the government is prepared to give the nurses a raise of at least 1,400 pounds this year.
"These are challenging times for everyone and the economic circumstances mean the RCN's demands ... are not affordable," Barclay said.
Further, the National Health Service has plans in place to minimize any disruption from the strikes, Barclay said.
Currently, the NHS is facing a record 7 million patients on waiting lists for hospital treatment.
"Why on Earth is the Health Secretary refusing to negotiate with nurses?" the opposition Labour Party's health spokesperson Wes Streeting recently asked.
"Patients already can't get treated on time, strike action is the last thing they need, yet the Government is letting this happen," as quoted by Reuters.