Socialist Worker

Going all out to end low pay

Issue No. 1771

HUNDREDS OF low paid women workers in hospitals across Glasgow are preparing for an all-out strike to force hospital bosses to give them better pay and conditions. They are 300 medical secretaries who have a vital role to play in healthcare provision in hospitals.

The all-women workforce are fed up with being treated as second class inside an underfunded NHS. 'If people like us aren't rewarded for the work we do in the NHS, then I seriously worry about its future,' said one striker, Anne Marie Hollywood. 'Low pay, overwork and privatisation are killing the NHS.' Their wages are limited to £700 to £800 a month because of the grade they have been assessed at.

The strikers, members of the UNISON union, are demanding they are regraded and given a better pay rise. They are due to begin an all-out strike on Tuesday of next week, affecting ten hospitals across Glasgow. It will build on the selective action they have been taking for the last two months, and increase the pressure on the health service management. The medical secretaries have begun to spread the word about their fight to other workers in Scotland and over the border.

They have spoken at workplace meetings in Birmingham, Manchester and London. They got a great response. 'The financial support and solidarity messages that we have received from around the country have given the strikers a boost,' said Carolyn Leckie, the UNISON union branch secretary. 'We feel we have the upper hand, and the escalation of the strike will strengthen us. We ask our supporters to redouble their efforts at this crucial time. A victory for us is a victory for the whole trade union movement.'

They are planning more delegation work around the north of England and Scotland over the coming weeks to drum up support for their strike. Medical secretary Cathy Craig also raised their dispute when she spoke at the rally after the 4,500-strong anti-war protest in Glasgow last Saturday.

The strikers are hoping that fellow workers in Lothian will be balloted for strike action in a similar dispute over pay. They have already rejected a deal that did not apply to all staff and still left them on a lesser wage.

The medical secretaries are showing that health workers have had enough of trying to keep a service going while the government refuses to pump in the money to give patients and workers a decent NHS.
Send messages of support and donations to Kathy MacLean, UNISON North Glasgow Hospitals Branch, Cuthbertson Building, Royal Infirmary, Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0SF.

THE Scottish Campaign Against Privatisation conference in Glasgow last Saturday attracted over 80 people.

The medical secretaries' dispute featured as one example of how the profit motive can have a damaging impact on workers and service users.

The conference backed a protest in Edinburgh against privatisation on Saturday 17 November, called by the postal workers' CWU union branch.

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Sat 20 Oct 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1771
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