OPINION - The Standard View: Intransigence has got the government nowhere on nurses’ strikes – negotiations remain key

 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

At last, a change in tone — and substance. Plans for a 48-hour walkout by nurses next week have been put on hold as the Royal College of Nursing enters “intensive talks” with the Government on pay, terms and conditions and “productivity enhancing reforms”.

The strike was set to be the biggest of this winter’s pay dispute, with half of frontline services affected. To call it off, ministers needed to do more than hold the line. Critically, the Government now appears open to making a reasonable offer on pay for this financial year, as well as next.

This was the policy advocated by Andy Burnham in the Evening Standard back in December — he suggested a one-off cost-of-living payment this year. We welcome the Government’s journey to such a policy but it should never have taken this long. In the meantime, 140,000 appointments have been cancelled.

A focus on bringing inflation down is the right one for all workers. But intransigence does not serve the Government, workers or patients. This shift should open the door to good faith negotiations across the public sector, on a case-by-case basis, to end the disruption and get Britain back to work.

Begum is our problem

Shamima Begum was born in this country, she was raised here, indeed she was radicalised here. As such, Britain cannot wash its hands of her.

Ms Begum was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State in February 2015. Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds by then-home secretary Sajid Javid shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019. She has been locked in a legal battle with the Government ever since. This morning, her appeal was lost at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

Ms Begum’s is a hard case and she is not the most sympathetic study. The crimes committed by IS, which she left to join, are unspeakably horrific — including mass executions, torture, rape and the forced recruitment of children.

It is understandable that a country might not welcome such a person with open arms. But the reality is that Ms Begum was a child when she left. She ought to face justice in this country, as a British citizen.

Tell us your stories

Do you feel like you belong? What does home mean to you? How do you know if you’ve found ‘your people’? That’s the theme of this year’s Stories Festival, our creative writing competition.

The winner will be published in the Evening Standard, receive mentoring in their chosen field and win a course of their choice at City Lit, our official education partner.

The competition is open now and it’s free to enter. Entries can be submitted as written, audio or film and it closes on April 12. Good luck!