Unions set for talks with UK ministers to avert strikes

UK government ministers are to meet union bosses on Monday in a bid to avert a fresh round of public sector strikes.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set up the meetings last week after the rail and health systems were crippled by a series of stoppages, with unions threatening more walkouts in the coming weeks.

Monday’s meetings will involve rail, health and education unions.

On Sunday, unions representing nurses and ambulance workers said there would be more strikes unless there was a fresh pay offer for the current year. Sunak had been resisting talks over the current year, but on Sunday appeared to soften his tone.

“The government has always been clear that it’s happy to talk about pay that is responsible, that’s affordable for the country. But we are about to start a new pay settlement round for this year,” the prime minister told the BBC. “We’re about to start that independent process, and before that process starts the government is keen to sit down with the unions and talk about pay.”

Bus drivers, ambulance workers, driving examiners are all striking this week, as are teachers in Scotland. In England, teachers in the NASUWT union will vote in a ballot for industrial action, with the result due on Tuesday.

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