Health workers plan rallies outside hospitals across Britain on Wednesday of next week to demand a pay rise.
The rallies are the latest action in a grassroots revolt over the Tories’ pay insult.
Some public sector workers were awarded small increases in July. But health workers weren’t included, despite all the plaudits they received for their work during the coronavirus crisis.
A day of action at the beginning of the month saw thousands take to the streets across Britain. This included a 2,000-strong march in London and hundreds more out in towns and cities across Britain.
Jordan, an occupational therapist who joined the march in London, says she “feels optimistic that we have a chance to win something”.
“We had a good sized group from our hospital,” she told Socialist Worker, “and some of the people who had come with us had never been on a protest before.
“Afterwards I’ve had a couple of people come up to me to say they had seen me there or had heard me speak.
“So there were more of us there than the group that went.”
Jordan added, “The mood in general is supportive of the campaign. I went around all the wards and got some other activists that I met before to join in the day of action. As I was walking around, I met another three people who wanted to help out.”
The upcoming day of action is a chance to spread the NHS pay revolt.
Health workers at St Thomas’ plan a rally outside the hospital, which sits directly across the Thames opposite parliament.
Activists at the hospital fired the first shot in the revolt with a 1,500-strong march on Downing Street at the end of last month.
Next week some workers at other hospitals in London plan to go to St Thomas’ after holding their own rallies. The Unison union in Scotland has called pay protests at hospitals on Tuesday around the theme “clapping doesn’t pay our bills”.
The union is calling on the Scottish government to reopen the last pay deal, and for ministers to sit down with trade unions to discuss a pay rise now for all NHS staff.
Ministers say that the NHS is in the middle of a three‑year pay deal which is raising pay by 6.5 percent.
But that “rise” never made it to health workers’ pockets. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Unison leaderships helped the Tories con people into thinking they would get more than they did.
That deal came on the back of a ten-year pay freeze which has led to up to a 20 percent real terms pay cut.
The unions are now divided over what to demand.
Unison is calling for a £2,000 rise for all health workers “as soon as possible”.
Meanwhile the RCN is supporting a 12.5 percent rise, which for nursing grades will be higher than Unison’s claim.
Activists involved in the pay revolt are demanding 15 percent—and are fighting to win it now.
Every trade unionist, socialist and campaigner should throw themselves behind the fight for NHS pay.
A win for the health workers would make it easier for everyone to fight back against the Tories and bosses.