Zahawi ridiculed over claim nurses’ strikes will aid Putin
Nurses criticise minister Nadhim Zahawi for reframing their strike in light of war in Ukraine, with RCN calling it ‘a new low for this government’
Former chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has been accused of stooping to ‘a new low’ after he told nurses they should accept a real-terms pay cut to send ‘a clear message to Putin.’
Appearing on Sky News on Sunday, Mr Zahawi, who is serving in the cabinet as a minister without portfolio, told Sophy Ridge that the country needs to unite over the war in Ukraine. He said rising prices were being driven by higher energy costs due to Russia’s invasion.
Interviewer questions minister’s stance on pay
‘We have to come together, this is not a time to be divided,’ Mr Zahawi added. ‘I hope to send a very clear message to Mr Putin that he can’t use energy as a weapon in this way and we will remain united, which is why we’ve accepted the [recommendations of the] Pay Review Body on the NHS and on schools.’
Ms Ridge responded: ‘I guess if you’re a nurse on 20 grand a year you would think that maybe there might be another way to send Putin a clear message on Ukraine rather than you having to take a real-terms pay cut.’
Zahawi says nurses’ strike is ‘exactly what Putin wants’
Later on Sunday, Mr Zahawi told Times Radio that ‘there was a price to pay for peace’. He also told Laura Kuenssberg on her BBC One programme that it was unfair of unions to strike in December and ‘disrupt people’s lives and livelihoods at Christmas’ because that’s ‘exactly what Putin wants’.
Hundreds of people took to Twitter accusing the minister of hypocrisy and being out of touch, recalling how he once claimed more than £5,800 on electricity expenses used to heat stables for his horses at his second home.
Nurses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are set to strike on 15 and 20 December over pay and concerns about patient safety.
Public wants government to address nurse pay dispute, RCN says
The RCN claims the government is unwilling to meet for negotiations and therefore is choosing strike action.
The college’s general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘Using Russia’s war in Ukraine as a justification for a real-terms pay cut for nurses in the UK is a new low for this government. The public does not believe this kind of rhetoric and wants ministers to address our dispute.
‘Nursing staff cannot afford their food and other bills, and still fear the worst on energy this winter.’
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