Health workers in Wales in the Unison union are set to walk out over pay for four hours on Monday 10 November.
The Welsh government has refused to give most health workers even the 1 percent pay rise that the pay review body recommended.
Instead, it offered the unions an insulting £160 one-off payment that wouldn’t count towards workers’ pensions.
Ian Thomas, Unison Cardiff and Vale health branch treasurer, spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity.
He said, “We’ve not had a pay rise in several years. Now most people think, ‘We’ve got to take a stand’.”
Health workers in Wales are the latest group to join the pay battle in the NHS. Unison is also discussing another day of action in England in November.
Ian said “it makes sense” for workers in England and Wales to strike together as “it’s part of the same fight”.
Health workers in the Unison, Unite and GMB unions and the Royal College of Midwives walked out in England last month. Radiographers across Britain also struck.
Unison’s health executive met last week and agreed to a further strike in England in late November. It is now consulting with other unions.
Karen Reissmann, who is on the union’s health executive, spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity.
“The picket lines on 13 October were great,” she said. “Now we need to show the government we’re serious.
“A future strike can be even better than the last one. It’s also important we build solidarity with other strikers, such as firefighters.”
The NHS is becoming a key battleground in the run-up to the 2015 general election.
It faces a fatal funding crisis after years of Tory attacks (see pages 10&11).
And while Labour has promised to repeal the hated Health and Social Care Act, it will continue slashing the budget.
But last month’s walkouts showed the potential for struggle to defend workers and the service.
“The truth is, 1 percent itself is a pittance,” said Ian.
He added, “How can the chancellor George Osborne say we’ve got a recovery, when ordinary people are still suffering?
“This is about fighting to defend the NHS and against austerity.”
Trade unionists and campaigners did collections in work and joined the health workers’ picket lines.
They were invigorated by new groups of workers joining the battle. This potential must be built on.
Ian said, “We need to do the work to build for the walkout. People are certainly up for it on my ward.
“We have to go all out to make the strike a success. But we should also be arguing for a strike of at least a full day.”
The Unite the Resistance conference on 15 November, and its health workshop, can help build networks to push for the sort of action that can win.