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Prepare now for NHS pay fight + Royal London hospital strike

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Issue 2761
Mental health workers in the Unison union in Manchester joined a lunchtime protest over pay last week
Mental health workers in the Unison union in Manchester joined a lunchtime protest over pay last week

Health workers in England and Wales need to be ready to respond quickly to a new pay offer that could emerge in the next few days.

There are rumours that the NHS Pay Review body will recommend an offer as low as 2.1 percent.

Although it’s double the 1 percent “pay rise” that Boris Johnson’s government wanted for health workers, it would still be considerably below inflation, with the RPI rate currently at 3.3 percent.

But there is a danger that the leaders of Unison, the biggest health service trade union, could try to bounce members into accepting an offer far below its target of a £2,000 increase for all NHS employees.

That’s why activists need to prepare now.

“We need to be ready to bombard our unions with demands for a strike ballot if the government offers us less than our demands,” said Jordan Rivera, a member of Unison’s health executive who spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity.

“We’ve had the worst year of our working lives. Many of us are exhausted and traumatised. Our wards are desperately short-staffed and demand remains overwhelming.

Winning what’s needed means stepping up workplace agitation over pay with meetings, postering, leafleting, workplace selfies and more. But it also means readying union members for the battle to come, with petitions addressed to the health service unions to demand action.

There is huge support for action over NHS pay, both in and outside the health service.

Matthew Tovey, a nurse at the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University hospital in South Wales earlier this spring started an online petition demanding a 15 percent pay rise.

So far, around 750,000 people have signed it.

If our unions were to capitalise on that feeling with strikes, the Tories could be brought to their knees.

Sign the NHS pay petition at
Strikers rally last week
Strikers’ rally last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Battling Serco at Royal London

Catering workers employed by outsourcing giant Serco at the Royal London hospital, struck for five days last week and held a protest rally.

The Unite union members are fighting over bullying and rosters.

The union says “bullying is characterised by the aggressive use of sickness absence triggers and an abuse of power in the allocation of shifts and holidays, which has left members at breaking point during the pandemic”.

In addition, without consultation, management has imposed an unworkable rota system with irregular shifts across a 15 week period.

Further strikes are planned from next Monday to Friday.

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