NHS employers’ plans to slash the pay and conditions of hundreds of thousands of health workers in England are meeting resistance.
Bosses want to renegotiate the national Agenda For Change agreement that sets pay scales in order to make huge savings.
This involves ending national pay, “downbanding” most workers, and replacing annual pay increments for all with performance-related bonuses for some. Sick pay and unsocial hours payments are also under attack.
Unison union activists in the north west of England last week unanimously rejected their proposals, with many reps saying that the national union should pull out of any further discussions.
Some reps fear that negotiations could be a prelude to the union offering to exchange job security for lower pay.
All NHS trade unions are consulting their members on the future of Agenda For Change, with responses to an internet survey of union branches, officers and shop stewards due by Friday of this week.
The survey is complicated, and those filling it in should consider reading the Unite union’s online advice which strongly opposes the bosses’ moves.
Protests and meetings across the country
The last week has seen protests, public meetings and plans firming up across the country to defend the NHS from cuts, closures and privatisation.
Over 2,500 people protested in Leeds on Monday of this week against the closure of children’s surgery at the hospital.
In Hull, 200 people turned out last Saturday to protest against Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust bosses’ plans to cut beds and wards.
And hundreds attended a meeting about the closure of Swanage hospital, in the seaside town in Dorset. According to the Purbeck Gazette, over 1,000 turned out, with almost 500 turned away at the door.
Campaigners protested outside until a Dorset NHS representative was given a police escort to come and address the crowds.
Meetings also took place for continuing campaigns across London. Big protests have been called in each area across the city to take place in September.
In Plymouth a meeting was set to take place on Wednesday of this week against the Virgin takeover of children’s NHS services across Devon. This follows a protest last week.
In Nottingham activists came together to discuss the next steps in the campaign to save Kirkby hospital. They called a march through Ashfield for 9 August.
In Sheffield this Tuesday there was set to be a protest against charges for treatment at a walk-in centre. And a protest this Saturday is planned in Eastbourne.
These campaigns are showing the way to save the NHS. Go to www.keepournhspublic.com for more details.
Northumbria health workers strike
Community health workers working for Northumbria NHS Trust struck on Thursday of last week against cuts to their travel allowances. Managers at the Trust almost halved the mileage rate paid to workers, from 47p to 24p.
The workers, members of the Unison union, say this is an impossible cut to accept in such a rural area. Unison branch secretary George Barron said, “Why should our members pay to do their own job?”