NHS workers second week of action

MEMBERS of ten major health unions in England and the occupied north of Ireland: Unite, Unison, GMN, RCN and others, last Monday began a second week of action on pay with a four-hour strike on Monday morning.

The workers are furious at being offered a one per cent, below inflation pay rise of just one per cent that will only be paid to some workers.

Health workers are among the lowest paid in England and many depend on benefits and food banks to feed their families, even though they do some of the hardest and most important jobs in the country.

Those who supported the strike included nurses, cleaners, porters, midwives, occupational therapists, paramedics, scientists, radiographers, admin, catering and security staff.

This action was followed by six days of work-to-rule.

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: “The fact almost all health unions are taking part in the industrial action should ring alarm bells in Whitehall.

“The anger is spreading and so is the public support for health workers’ cause. The strength of feeling is far from fading and the dispute far from going away.

“All the Government has done so far is threaten workers with job cuts. If the Secretary of State seriously thinks staff are the NHS’ best asset then he needs to treat them fairly. We are only asking for decent pay for the hard working people the Government say they care so much about....

“The fact is the independent NHS Pay Review Body recommended a one per cent pay rise for all but this was rejected by the Government and now 60 per cent won’t even be getting a one per cent pay rise.

GMB reported on Monday that its members were “rock solid” behind the strike. Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer for the NHS said “Reports from across the country are that the second wave of strike action by GMB members has been rock solid.

“Members not on shift during the four hour stoppage stood in solidarity and supported the picket lines in huge numbers.

“The response is a testament to how NHS staff feel about the injustice in the pay offer. GMB members are determined to get Government to listen. The numbers of unions taking part in this week strike has also increased.

“Public support is growing for the NHS dispute. The NHS is under attack and NHS staff pay is under attack.”

Meanwhile Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, a multi-millionaire, has erected a “Berlin Wall of intransigence” in refusing to talk to NHS staff on pay, the giant union

Unite said last week. Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “As ministers ponder their departmental legacies as May’s general election looms, Jeremy Hunt’s ministerial epithet will be: ‘I did not talk to hardworking NHS staff on pay’.

“We understand that MPs from all parties have been urging Hunt to start talks, but, so far, he is cowering behind a Berlin Wall of intransigence.

“The 1.35 million NHS workforce has been forced, reluctantly, to take strike action on Monday as they have seen their incomes eroded by 15 per cent since the coalition came to power in May 2010 — and we expect a strong turn-out buoyed up by very welcome continuing public support, following the four hour action last month.”