Socialist Worker

NHS worker says 'don’t miss opportunity for united strikes'

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2407

Protest outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London

Protest outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Health workers staged a day of action to demand better pay around Britain on Thursday of last week.

Staff set up stalls and petitions at hospitals to build support for a national dispute against the government’s refusal to give NHS workers a pay rise.

The Unison union initiated the call for action in the run-up to a national strike ballot.

But members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), who are furious with the attacks on health workers’ pay, joined Unison members on the two-hour protests.

At Homerton Hospital in east London RCN, Unison and Unite union members collected 150 signatures from health workers in just one hour.

Support

A health worker there told Socialist Worker, “It was absolutely brilliant. We got a lot of support from staff. Everyone who passed had something to say.

“Workers from different groups, from physiotherapists to consultants, back our fight for better pay.”

In Bristol Unite members also leafleted hospitals to build the campaign for better pay.

Unite members in health recently voted strongly in favour of taking action against the Tories’ pay insult in a consultative ballot.

The union says it will now launch a campaign to get the government to “think again” on NHS pay. It said that if the government does not reconsider its attacks, it will campaign up to the general election.

But many workers voted in the consultative ballot in the belief they would then be balloted over whether to strike and potentially coordinate with other workers.

The Royal College of Midwives said last week that it was prepared to strike over the Tories’ assault on NHS pay. 

Gwyneth, a health worker in Bristol, told Socialist Worker, “The mood is definitely there for health workers to come together. Unite represents 100,000 workers in the NHS, we cannot miss the opportunity to join strikes with other workers.”


Marchers say ‘Save Our Surgeries’

Up to 1,000 people joined a Save Our Surgeries march and rally in Tower Hamlets, east London, on Thursday of last week against health cuts.

The protesters stopped off at 14 surgeries along the route, all of which had huge banners outside reading “save our surgeries” and “a threat to one is a threat to all”. 

Some 29 out of 36 medical practices in the borough displayed the banners. Delegations from every practice not on the route joined the marchers at various points. 

A poignant speech by an elderly patient spoke of what health care had been like before the birth of the NHS. 

Plans are being made for a follow up event on 5 July—the birthday of the NHS. 

General Practice is so underfunded and so stretched by our workload that if some practices fall over the rest won’t be far behind. 

Jackie Turner


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