NURSES UNION PREPARES STRIKE FUND
The Telegraph reports: the main union for nurses has set up an £35 million industrial action fund to strike if necessary over the Government’s one percent pay rise for health workers.The council of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) made the decision amid growing anger over the pay of health staff who have been under unprecedented pressure during the coronavirus crisis. The RCN said in a statement: “A strike fund is an amount of money that can be used to support workers, who are members of a trade union, to provide some compensation for loss of earnings and campaigning during industrial action.RCN council are determined to have the finances available to our members should they wish to take action.In setting up this fund, the RCN will create the UK’s largest union strike fund overnight. The next steps will be decided in conjunction with our members.”
PROPOSED PAY AWARD REFLECTS DIFFICULT FINANCIAL CIRCUMSTANCES
The Express reports: The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has called on NHS nurses to continue to pull together to protect Brits against coronavirus after union bosses threatened strike action. Speaking at a televised coronavirus briefing on Friday he called on NHS workers to refuse to entertain the unions threats. He said: Whilst everybody else in the public sector is going to have a pay freeze, we are able to propose a pay rise for nurses – at one percent I entirely appreciate – that reflects the difficult financial circumstances that the country is in.
TORY BACK BENCH JOIN BACKLASH OVER NURSES PAY OFFER
From the Evening Standard:Tory backbench MP today joined the backlash against one percent pay rise for nurses. One branded it inept, another unacceptable and a third said it was pathetic and risked damaging the Government’s standing on its support for the health service. Less than 24 hours after the row erupted, health minister Nadine Dorries this morning opened the door to possibly increasing the proposed salary award. Former nurse Ms Dorries insisted that the pay rise for health workers, who have been hailed as heroes as they led the battle against covid-19 was what the Government could afford given the shattered public finances. But she then suggested that ministers might move from this position after a pay review body makes its recommendation following talks with health unions and other NHS groups. Nurses took to the airwaves this morning to vent their fury at the offer, which some branded an insult.
BORIS MISLEAD PARLIAMENT COURT ORDER SUGGESTS
The Independent reports on a court order which suggests that Boris Johnson misled parliament over the publication of coronavirus contracts.The prime minister had claimed that the contracts, which are subject to a legal challenge and cronyism allegations, were in the public domain. However, a High Court order on Friday shows that the government had only published “608 out of 708 relevant contracts”. Gemma Abbott, the legal director of the Good Law Project, said: ‘Unless contract details are published, they cannot be properly scrutinised — there’s no way of knowing where taxpayers’ money is going and why.’
COMMONS MUST BE FULLY OPEN BEFORE NIGHT CLUBS SAYS JRM
The Daily Mail reports that Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested MPs should be back to normal working in the House of Commons no later than mid-June. The Commons Leader pointed out that nightclubs in England are due to reopen from June 21 under the final step of Boris Johnson’s proposed lockdown reopening. Mr Rees-Mogg told Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle: We can’t be behind nightclubs, Mr Speaker.’ The Tory frontbencher said the Commons must return to being a proper chamber after months of social distancing, limits on numbers and the use of video screens. Sir Lindsay told MPs he will be presenting his own roadmap for the Commons at a meeting of the House of Commons Commission next week, and denied he wanted the full reopening delayed until September.
PATIENT X CARRIER FOUND AT HOME
The Daily Star reports that the Government has admitted the ‘Patient X’ carrier of the mutant Brazilian Covid 19 strain was at home all along. Health Secretary Matt Hancock defended Test and Trace after the sixth person carrying the variant was located after a five day search and said: ‘The best evidence is that this person in question stayed at home, and there’s no sign that there’s been any onward transmission.’ ‘Patient X’ had not provided their contact details after returning to their home in Croydon, south London, from Brazil, so they could not be reached.The hunt for the mystery patient had been narrowed down to 379 households in the south-east of England before the patient was eventually found after a nationwide search.
NEW TRADE ROUTE TO MOROCCO
The Express reports that plans for a new direct shipping route between the UK and Morocco, which bypasses the EU, have been confirmed by Poole Harbour Commissioners. The proposed ferry service would travel between Poole in Dorset and Tanger Med near Tangier. The roll-on, roll-off service would cut the journey time between Britain and Morocco in half from six days to just three. In October 2019 Britain signed a new trade deal with Morocco providing continued access to its market which was valued at around £2.5bn in 2018. The hope is this will help compensate for any trade lost when new checks with the EU come into place in July.
AIRLINE TRAVELLERS NEED PERMISSION TO LEAVE UK
From the Daily Mail: Travellers face being fined £200 if they turn up at an airport without a new form under a new clampdown on illegal travel. The Department for Transport announced today that from Monday, people travelling internationally from England will need to complete and carry a Declaration to Travel document which can be downloaded from the government’s website. The three-page form asks the traveller to set out their reason for needing to go abroad during the travel ban. And the firm warns them they also face fines or even being arrested if they give ‘false or misleading information’.
HEALTH PASSPORTS OK WITH US SAY BRITS
The Daily Mail reports: Three out of four Britons would be willing to carry proof they have been vaccinated if it meant they could travel, a new survey suggests. Acceptance is highest among people aged over 65 who have been offered Covid-19 jabs ahead of most younger people, with 89 per cent happy to carry some sort of vaccination passport, the poll found. This figure falls to 67 per cent for 18 to 24-year-olds, but LondonCity Airport, which commissioned the research, believes it will rise as vaccines are rolled out further. Prime MinisterBoris Johnson has pledged that all UK adults will be offered their first dose by the end of July.
TOP OIL PRODUCERS STICK WITH PRODUCTION CUTS
Reuters reports: This week’s surprise decision by Saudi Arabia and other top oil producers to broadly stick with output cuts despite rising crude prices was influenced by events in an unexpected place – Italy. About a year after the country’s financial heart became one of the first European cities to enter a lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, Milan is again facing restrictions. Restrictions on movement destroyed up to a fifth of oil demand last year and led OPEC and its allies to make record output cuts. And while global oil futures are back where they were before the pandemic – which for many pundits and investors heralded more production the recovery in fuel demand has been tepid as global travel remains subdued. But the Saudi minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud chose to err on the side of caution, despite higher projected crude demand from OPEC’s own analysts, and dismissed signs of a stronger market, such as forecasts for a rapid economic recovery.
FIVE TERM SCHOOL HOLIDAYS
The Daily Mail writes that Gavin Williamson has hinted that school summer holidays could be shortened permanently as part of a move to a five-term year. The Education Secretary said the government is looking at doing things in a different way as it scrambles to help children catch up after the lockdowns. However, headteachers cautioned against a knee jerk introduction of a five-term system, which could potentially mean children having just four weeks off in the summer rather than around six. The suggestion of a much deeper overhaul comes days before pupils are finally due to return to classrooms in England on Monday.
CYPRUS EXPECTS A WALL OF MONEY TO BE SPENT BY BRITS
The Times reports: A wall of money will be spent on trips to Cyprus after the country became the first to open its borders without restrictions to vaccinated Britons, travel experts have said. The island’s authorities announced yesterday that from May 1 travellers who have had two doses of a vaccine will not need to quarantine or be tested upon arrival. Now an enormous demand for foreign holidays that has built up over lockdown is expected to target its resorts, beaches and bars. The destination is already favoured by Britons, who account for more international tourists there than any other country, but experts said the announcement will trigger a wave of bookings.
From the Guardian: There are only so many polite words that come to mind when one spots a ship apparently hovering above the ocean during a stroll along the English coastline. David Morris, who captured the extraordinary sight on camera, declared himself stunned when he noticed a giant tanker floating above the water as he looked out to sea from a hamlet near Falmouth in Cornwall. The effect is an example of an optical illusion known as a superior mirage. Such illusions are reasonably common in the Arctic but can also happen in UK winters when the atmospheric conditions are right, though they are very rare.