Socialist Worker

NHS protests point the way to win change

Issue No. 2716

Health workers are showing how to fight back

Health workers are showing how to fight back (Pic: Dave Gilchrist)


The NHS workers’ pay revolt is hugely welcome. It shows how there is real anger in society and working class fury can explode unexpectedly, often outside the official channels of the labour movement.

Millions are looking for a focus to force a reckoning with the Tories.

Health workers have been frustrated about stagnating pay for over a decade.

But the Tory refusal to give them a pay rise after working throughout the pandemic has ignited a fightback.

People who have never been involved in politics or unions before organised protests across Britain for this Saturday. 

It’s another inspiring example of how recent resistance has come from the streets and workplaces—not from the Labour Party or union leaders.

Some NHS workers at the forefront of the revolt have learnt from the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

BLM mobilised tens of thousands of people onto the streets in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Protests happened in more than 200 places across Britain throughout May and June, including in small towns that haven’t had one in many years.

BLM has done more to challenge racism than decades of official inquiries and reviews.

Crisis

Before the coronavirus crisis hit, millions of people worldwide took to the streets over climate chaos.

In Britain school students walked out and Extinction Rebellion activists shut down parts of London during its rebellions.

The global climate strike on 20 September 2019 was the largest worldwide day of action since the demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq on 15 February 2003.

Meanwhile, Labour is not only absent from the movements, it is actively distancing itself from any resistance.

The NHS workers leading a grassroots pay revolt say—‘we’ve had enough!’
The NHS workers leading a grassroots pay revolt say—‘we’ve had enough!’
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Sir Keir Starmer has made clear he will bend his knee to big business.

He has given no opposition to an unsafe return to work.

When the NEU union led a campaign against a wider reopening of schools in June, Starmer ensured Labour didn’t fully back them.

The coronavirus crisis has shown us that its workers—not billionaires—who create wealth and keep society going.

And this gives workers immense power to strike and shut down the Tories’ and bosses’ system.

Everyone should take the lead of the health workers, take to the streets on Saturday, and build the resistance.

And afterwards the networks of revolt need to grow and step up the pressure for more protests, action in workplaces, and strikes.

This Saturday has to be a launch pad for more resistance.

For a map of the demonstrations with details go to bit.ly/NHS-pay-protest-map

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