Socialist Worker

Surgical strikers say low pay won’t cut it

by John Duff and Jeff Hurford
Issue No. 2539

There is deep anger against attacks on the NHS

There is deep anger against attacks on the NHS (Pic: Socialist Worker)


The workers who disinfect and sterilise surgical instruments at three south Wales hospitals struck on Wednesday of last week.

They demand better pay to recognise the new skills needed to operate changing technology and to get parity with similar workers at other health boards.

The hospitals couldn’t run without them, but the assistant technical officers at the hospital sterilisation and disinfection unit (HSDU) in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University health board feel undervalued.

Around 90 members of the Unison union joined the strike in Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea. At a well-attended march and rally in Swansea, strikers talked about the increased responsibility and accountability that comes with changes in the job—and about bullying by bosses.

Fiona told Socialist Worker, “We’ve got close to 100 percent solidarity here. We’re determined to win.”

Another strike was planned on Wednesday of this week, severely disrupting non-emergency surgery.

Workers want an upgrade to the Band 3 pay level—a status already won at other health boards in the region. Helen Cattle, Unison assistant branch secretary, said workers “were not being taken seriously”.

Their outdated job description doesn’t recognise what is now a highly skilled job. So after two years of negotiation, they voted by 80 percent to strike.

Unison organiser Mark Turner told bosses to “recognise the anger you have created and pay the appropriate rate for the job”.


Workers who run NHS computers fight to save jobs

Workers providing IT services for NHS trusts and corporations are organising against mass sackings by their employer Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC).

CSC announced up to 1,100 job losses last week on top of 499 redundancies that were announced in December. These add up to a quarter of its workforce.

The workers provide back office systems to dozens of NHS trusts.

A senior Unite union rep told Socialist Worker, “They’re sacking people to make more profit and that can put patients at risk.

“If a system goes down there might not be enough people to get it back up.”

Around 50 workers and supporters protested at the gates of CSC’s Chesterfield office on Tuesday.

Unite is expected to call an indicative strike ballot. Workers should vote to take action against the cuts—and other trade unionists should support them.

Send messages of support to unite.union.csc@gmail.com

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