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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


Support the nurses! + So long Gavin Williamson

NHS NURSES have voted to strike over pay for the first time in their union’s 106-year history. The Royal College of Nurses (RCN) says it will take industrial action before Christmas following a ballot of its 300,000 strong members across the country. The Government offered an £1,400 pay rise – which after inflation, now around 12 per cent, would be a significant pay cut in real terms.

Real earnings amongst all private sector employees have fallen by 3.2 per cent over the last 10 years; but the average weekly pay for nurses has dropped by six per cent in real terms between 2011–2021. Many have been forced to use foodbanks to survive., others are simply jumping ship due to the soaring cost of living.

The nurses are campaigning for a five per cent above inflation catch-up rise that recognises the crucial role that they play in the health service by paying them a living wage.

RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen told her members this was a “once in a generation chance to improve your pay and combat staff shortages” that put patients at risk. “I want to thank every member who took part in, or supported, this ballot. You can be very proud. The results are strong and clear,” she said.

“This is a defining moment in our history, and our fight will continue through strike action and beyond for as long as it takes to win justice for the nursing profession and our patients.

“Anger has become action – our members are saying enough is enough. The voice of nursing in the UK is strong and I will make sure it is heard. Our members will no longer tolerate a financial knife-edge at home and a raw deal at work.

“Ministers must look in the mirror and ask how long they will put nursing staff through this. While we plan our strike action, next week’s budget is the UK government’s opportunity to signal a new direction with serious investment. Across the country, politicians have the power to stop this now and at any point.

“This action will be as much for patients as it is for nurses. Standards are falling too low and we have strong public backing for our campaign to raise them. This winter, we are asking the public to show nursing staff you are with us.”

Support for the nurses is riding high in the opinion polls at the moment. We need to ensure that it becomes a massive solidarity movement in support of the just demands of the nurses and all the other workers who keep the NHS running.

So long Gavin Williamson

SO GAVIN WILLIAMSON is out of the Cabinet again following charges of bullying from fellow Tories that made for his inevitable departure. The man Keir Starmer calls a “pathetic bully” has fallen on his sword following charges of abusive behaviour from fellow Tories, including former premier Theresa May, which go back years. He lasted just under two years as defence minister before he was sacked by Mrs May for allegedly leaking confidential information to the media.

Williamson returned to high office under Boris Johnson and served as education secretary for just over two years before being dumped during the post-Covid reshuffle in September 2021. And he lasted just two weeks under Rishi Sunak, who says he now regrets appointing Williamson in the first place.

He now returns to the backbenches for the third time in his parliamentary career. No-one will miss him at the top table; there are plenty more queuing up to take his place.