The Tories have delivered another blow to NHS workers. Now workers’ fury has to be turned into action for a 15 percent rise.
The people who put their lives on the line during the pandemic face a pay cut.
On Tuesday, as Socialist Worker went to press, an offer of a 3 percent pay rise was expected to be made for NHS England staff.
With the RPI measure of inflation at 3.9 percent that’s a real terms pay reduction. And there were rumours that half of it was going to be a one-off payment.
Matt Tacey is a nurse from the Midlands and a member of Nurses United. He slammed the offer as “pitiful” and said it shows staff are “undervalued”.
“The government’s agenda is to privatise the NHS.
“They will make it not fit for purpose so they can justify selling it off to private companies.
“The NHS, built by migrants for the working class, is being destroyed by the rich.”
Nina Barbosa is an NHS worker in Birmingham.
She told Socialist Worker, “The government has had multiple opportunities to demonstrate they value NHS workers, and they’ve not taken them.”
“It’s pathetic. My council tax is up 5.2 percent this year,” she said. “Full time workers shouldn’t have to survive on food banks to survive.”
NHS occupational therapist Jordan Rivera was part of a protest delivering a petition of 800,000 signatures to Downing Street on Tuesday, calling for a 15 percent pay rise.
“It’s really hard to recover from what we’ve been through when we are working so hard. And we are forced to work additional hours to make ends meet,” she told Socialist Worker.
“Three percent is not going to reverse what is happening in the NHS.”
Jordan added that “morale is at rock bottom.”
“The George Cross being awarded to the NHS is not good enough,” she said.
“It doesn’t benefit us at all, it’s to fob us off.
“Many people want to strike. They recognise things can’t keep going the way they are. It feels like now is the time.” Matt added, “Money is splashed about and given to the Tories’ mates. They spent £37 billion on a track and trace system that doesn’t work properly.”
“A fightback is essential,” Nina explained. “We need effective resistance. The unions have to work together.
“We’re not going to have an NHS in ten years if we don’t sort this out.”
Matt said, “I’d like to see the unions say we’re not going to accept this offer, and then organise the fightback. If we don’t fight we’ll always lose. People are knackered, battered and tired.
“But we need to strike—I want to strike and be on a picket line.
“Without a strike this government will continue to take us for granted time and time again.”
NHS workers must organise and will need full support from every trade union. And they must demand backing from the Labour Party.
Unfortunately in March Labour helped the Tories by declaring NHS workers should receive at least a 2.1 percent pay rise—far too little.
The Tories can’t be allowed to get away with murder again.
Hospitals at breaking point
Hospitals and ambulance services are in a deepening crisis caused by the surge in Covid-19 infections.
The removal of restrictions has coincided with pressure from the heatwave and the return of thousands of workers to offices and places of work.
NHS services have reported a surging demand from patients. Workers are being redeployed to new Covid wards and 999 calls going unanswered for vital minutes because of a lack of staff.
A weekend heatwave saw the West Midlands Ambulance Service declaring “extreme pressure” with 999 calls exceeding levels normally seen on New Year’s Day.
Temperatures are expected to continue to rise, which could potentially put even more strain on already stretched services.
University Hospitals Birmingham cancelled all its elective operations, including liver transplants on Thursday of last week.
Cancer surgeries have also been delayed at Leeds Teaching Hospital, with delays also at hospitals in Manchester and Newcastle.