Socialist Worker

NHS workers would strike + Sage action + BT ballot + Courts battle

Issue No. 2737

NHS workers protested over pay last year

NHS workers protested over pay last year (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The majority of Scottish nurses are willing to strike due to being “burnt out and undervalued” and suffering from bullying during the coronavirus crisis.

A new study also found that nearly all frontline key workers say they are suffering mental health issues.

The survey by health worker group Nurses United and Nursing Notes found that 60 percent of nursing staff in Scotland were willing to strike up to and including the withdrawal of non-critical care.

Of the 659 Scottish nurses who took part in the survey, 97 percent said they felt undervalued by the government.

Just over half said they were regularly understaffed and three quarters of them admitted it led to a compromise in care.

One in three workers had been forced to skip meals to feed their family or save money and 12 percent had been forced to miss rent payments.

Royal College of Nursing Scotland’s associate director Eileen McKenna said it had found as early as last summer that nursing staff continued to feel “undervalued, under pressure and unhappy with low staffing levels”.

A survey for the GMB union has revealed that almost two thirds of NHS workers are considering leaving the service after the end of the pandemic.

Details of the survey were released on Monday as 13 NHS unions came together to launch a united campaign for better pay.


Sage workers set to strike

Care and cleaning workers in the UVW union at Service to the Aged (Sage) care home in north London were set to strike from Friday to Sunday this week.

In October workers voted 100 percent for action.

They are demanding pay of £12 an hour as well as sick pay and annual leave at the same level as NHS rates.

They also want UWV to be the recognised union.

A UVW statement said, “Sage’s trustees, two of whom are billionaires, continue to cite poverty pay and precarity across the sector as justification for refusing workers’ demands.”

Bile, a care worker at the home, said, “We have worked and worked in this pandemic, but when an employee voices their opinion, there is a barrier, there is a block, they’re ignored.

“It’s happening because our bosses look at us like we’re nothing.”

Donate to their strike fund at bit.ly/sagecarehomefund


Vote begins for BT action

The CWU union is beginning a formal strike ballot this week at BT’s Openreach.

It follows bosses’ refusal to withdraw from imposed changes to the grades of Repayment Project Engineers (RPEs).

RPEs voted by 92 percent for strikes over the issue last year in a consultative ballot.

The union hoped Openreach management would then reconsider.

But, says the CWU, “such expectations have proved futile with complete management intransigence setting the scene for the forthcoming statutory industrial action ballot”.

The ballot was set to begin on Thursday this week and end on 4 February.

At that point, says the CWU, “assuming a ‘Yes’ vote and the company’s continued refusal to change tack, notice will be served for industrial action to commence on or about Thursday 18 February”.


Battle coming in courts?

The PCS union has begun a consultative industrial action ballot for its members working for outsourcer OCS on a security contract in courts and tribunals.

It is over the failure to improve pay, terms and conditions.

Workers want pay of at least £9.50 an hour across Britain and £10.85 an hour in London.

They are also demanding sick pay from day one at the company rather than statutory rates, 30 days annual leave per year and a bonus in recognition of their work during the pandemic.

OCS has offered an increase of just 13p an hour.

Yet OCS has also released a statement boasting about making £20 million in

Covid-related sales since the start of the pandemic.

The PCS says its members have “often put the health and safety of court users above their own health and safety. Our members are outraged, angry, and disgusted by OCS,” it said.


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