Up to 500,000 NHS workers in
Unison, GMB and Unite union members all walked out and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) struck for the first time in its 133-year history.
Health workers are furious with Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt for refusing to give most NHS workers even a 1 percent pay rise.
Linnet Johnson is a Unison rep at north
“Many of the lowest paid are forced to go to food banks and take out pay day loans.”
Workers from the four health union held large and lively picket lines.
The 50-strong University College Hospital (UCH) picket in central
Forty people joined the
Ambulance workers were out in strength at
One ambulance worker said, “The overwhelming feeling today is the resolve to take back our NHS. We need an escalation in the action to do that.”
Trade unionists and health campaigners came down to “Breakfasts for the NHS” to support health workers and hand in workplace collections.
Unison NEC member Karen Reissman (pc) said, “The picket lines were fantastic and very political – mine had over 100 on it by 10am.”
The strike was officially about pay – but strikers also want to stop attacks on the NHS.
UCH Unite branch chair Eugene Czauderna told Socialist Worker, “It’s not just about pay. The fact that the government doesn’t appreciate health workers is reflected in their pay offer.
“But we’re striking to keep the NHS going.”
Unison rep Wendy added, “It’s about working conditions too. We’re having to work longer hours with bigger workloads – then there’s the targets.
“We don’t want any more privatisation.”
RCM members were well represented on picket lines. UCH RCM steward Anna White told Socialist Worker, “I’ve been qualified for five years and my pay has gone down in real terms.
“We’re also paying more on our pensions now. We didn’t put up a fight then and we have to now.”
Unison, Unite and GMB members are taking action short of strike for the rest of the week by taking their proper breaks.
Karen said, “We launched a campaign against the privatisation of
Unison is talking about another four-hour strike in November and is balloting its health members in
Janet Maiden, Unison sector group executive (pc), said, “We need to keep on taking action. I think the next step has to be at least a 24-hour strike.”
The strike has shown that health workers want to fight – and that they can win massive support. Union leaders should now call escalating, coordinated action to win.