Socialist Worker

Build a big NHS pay strike vote in Unison union ballot + NHS strikes in Manchester and Berkshire + support Paul Holmes

Issue No. 2779

NHS workers are angry over pay

NHS workers are angry over pay (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The giant Unison union is balloting its members in the health service in England on whether they are prepared to take industrial action against the government’s pitiful 3 percent pay rise.

The pay rise has already been rejected by more than 80 percent of Unison members that voted in a recent poll.

Not only is 3 percent below the current rate of inflation, it falls well short of the union’s demand for a £2,000 across the board rise.

The new vote is an indicative ballot rather than a formal industrial action, meaning there would have to be a further ballot before lawful strikes could take place.

Ballot papers will be sent by email this week and voting will be open until 5 December.

Leading union activist and nurse Karen Reissmann told Socialist Worker that the ballot is vital for everyone who wants a future for the NHS.

“The health service is in a terrible state—and everyone that works in it is at the end of their tether. We have to say, ‘enough is enough’,” she said.

“As a union we have to say this fight over pay is a chance to turn the tide.

“If we can beat the government over pay, we can win over staffing levels and much else.”


Karen says all union activists need to throw themselves into the fight to win a huge yes vote for action.

“We need to be in every office and on every ward getting the vote out,” she said.

“There needs to be union posters everywhere, showing that the union is everywhere.

“But the national union needs to go up a gear too. There need to be big motivating events to get things going.

“There should be a national rally, open to all union reps, to give everyone their say.”

The Unison website has posters and leaflets available to download now.

  • The GMB union is to ballot tens of thousands of NHS workers for strikes action over the NHS pay issue.

The formal postal ballot opens on 10 November and closes 15 December.

Back Manchester strike over workload

A team of emergency mental health workers in Manchester have voted for strikes against overworking.

Some 95 percent of the Unison union members in the city’s Early Intervention Services backed action after bosses decided to stretch their working from a five-day service to one that runs all week.

Staff already have caseloads well above the recommended maximum of 15. They often work late to try and deliver their service, but are now completely exhausted.

In the last two years the number of new episodes of psychosis have risen by 75 percent. Yet there has been no increase in the size of the workers’ team.

Messages of support to [email protected]

Berkshire battle coming

Cleaners, porters and caterers are set to strike at four Berkshire hospitals.

The GMB union members at the King Edward VII, Wokingham, Upton and St Marks hospital sites are angry at forced changes to their employment contracts.

Workers voted 100 percent for strikes. Strike dates have not yet been announced.

Support for Paul Holmes

Supporters of victimised trade unionist Paul Holmes were set to rally in his defence on the last day of his disciplinary hearing on Friday of this week.

Paul is a leading left wing activist in the Unison union and its elected president.

Paul’s bosses at Kirklees council suspended him in November 2019. As branch secretary of Kirklees Unison, Paul has led strikes and campaigns against council cuts. There were four ballots among Kirklees workers at the time that Paul was suspended.

Now—after a 15 month investigation—his disciplinary hearing is set to end. Paul’s supporters are calling on trade unionists to join a support rally.

Lobby the hearing, 9-10am, Fri 5 Nov, John Smith Stadium, Stadium Way, Huddersfield, HD1 6PG. Or join online Zoom rally at the same time, using the Zoom ID 865 0074 6660 and passcode withPaul

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