UK politician under fire after making bizarre link between Vladimir Putin and NHS strikes

The Conservative chairman has accused striking NHS staff of helping Putin in his assault on Ukraine.

‘NHS strikes are helping Putin’ claims senior cabinet minister
© Bloomberg - Getty Images
‘NHS strikes are helping Putin’ claims senior cabinet minister

Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi has accused nurses and ambulance staff of helping Vladimir Putin in his war on Ukraine by striking over pay. The cabinet minister urged NHS staff to cancel the strike stating, as per The Guardian:

Discover our latest podcast

This is a time to come together and to send a very clear message to Mr Putin that we’re not going to be divided in this way … our message to the unions is to say this is not a time to strike, this is a time to try to negotiate.

He went on the claim that Putin was using, 'energy as a weapon against Ukraine', and increasing public sector pay would only make inflation worse.


‘NHS strikes are helping Putin’ claims senior cabinet minister SOPA Images - Getty Images

The comments have been widely condemned by union bosses as being inappropriate and an attempt to dodge the issue. Pat Cullen, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing replied, as per The Independent:

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 head of health for Unison, the largest union in the UK, Sara Gorton also criticised the minister's comments, as per The Guardian:

Instead of taking responsibility for trying to solve the growing staffing crisis, ministers want to ratchet up the rhetoric and pick fights with ambulance workers and their NHS colleagues.
This won’t go down well with the public. People have lots of sympathy for health workers and know that if wages improve, so will vacancy rates and patient care.

Pay demands

The Royal College of Nursing has confirmed that 100,000 staff will go on strike this month with the first round of strikes taking place on Thursday, December 15 and Tuesday, December 20.

The union has warned that the strikes will continue at more hospitals in January unless a resolution to their pay demands can be met, with a mandate for strikes to continue until early May.

The RCN wants a pay rise of 5 per cent above RPI inflation of 19.2 per cent. The average nurse earns £35,000 and under current government plans that will go up to £37,00, having announced in the summer a raise of 4 per cent following a pay review from an independent body, as per The Times.

During the strike, emergency and life-saving care will not be affected, including A&E, chemotherapy and treatments like kidney dialysis. However, non-urgent care will be cancelled or postponed and is likely to impact tens of thousands of patients across the country.

Read more: Nurses to go on strike over pay: Here’s how it affects you

Sources used:

- The Guardian 'Tory chairman’s ‘NHS strikes help Putin’ claim dismissed as ‘ludicrous’'

- The Independent 'Nurses must drop pay demands to ‘send clear message to Putin’, cabinet minister says'

- The Times 'Which hospitals are affected by the nurses strike? Check your area'

Former Vladimir Putin adviser threatens the UK with a nuclear strike on live radio Former Vladimir Putin adviser threatens the UK with a nuclear strike on live radio