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16 June 2021

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Underpaid and overworked - NHS workers say: 'Enough is enough'

Health workers protest for a 15% pay rise. Photo: Steve Eason/CC

Health workers protest for a 15% pay rise. Photo: Steve Eason/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Rhian, South Wales nurse

NHS staff have been on the Covid front line since last March.

Over 800 healthcare staff have died, and the Boris Johnson government won't even release their names. People went out to work, and they didn't come home.

We should have been protected properly. And the contract for PPE shouldn't have gone to Matt Hancock's mates.

There's been a total disregard for life - right down to the privatised test-and-trace systems that never worked. The UK is the country with the fifth highest Covid death rate - largely the result of underfunding and privatising health and social care services for many years.

We were due for a pay review in April. Nurses are the lowest-paid graduates, but some frontline staff, like healthcare support workers, go to work for as little as £9.21 an hour. And the government has offered us a 1% pay 'rise' - basically a 'Happy Meal' a week.

In the last year we've tried to keep everyone safe. Now, on 3 July, the NHS's 73rd birthday, we feel it's the right time to make a stand and say - 'enough is enough'.

We want a safer environment for our patients, we want to end privatisation, and we want to be paid in line with our skills and responsibilities.

Nurses United, a grassroots organisation, is backing a 15% rise - a fair ask, really. Unite the Union is backing it, as is the GMB union and Wales Trades Union Congress.

One of our favourite hashtags at the moment is #NHSPay15. It doesn't matter which union you're with, we all need to stand together.

As workers, we need to make our voices heard. We need to say to our union leaders: "This is what we want. We're rejecting this pay offer. We will strike. We're prepared to do this." Then, the pressure would be applied massively on government.

The NHS is one of the biggest employers in the UK. The union leaders need to be organising. They need to be preparing to mobilise. They need to be ready for a ballot. They need to build to do that, so we can get the pay rise we deserve and the NHS the funding it needs.

See also:
Now is the time to fight for the NHS
Save Leicester General Hospital

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In The Socialist 16 June 2021:

Trade unions and workplace

Left candidate needed for Unite general secretary election

Majority of BFAWU members vote to break from Labour

Right lose control in Unison NEC election

Sparks win victory!

Engineers in fourth week of strike action against huge fire-and-rehire attacks

Leicester University workers strike against redundancies

PCS conference 2021: Divide between union leaders and rank-and-file exposed

Socialist Party to the fore at Unison LG conference

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Underpaid and overworked - NHS workers say: 'Enough is enough'

Now is the time to fight for the NHS

Save Leicester General Hospital

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Readers' comments


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Sheffield Just Eat strikers step up action and hold mass rally, photo by Alistair Tice

Sheffield Just Eat strikers step up action and hold mass rally: Over 100 trade unionists and students in Sheffield rallied in support of the Just Eat delivery drivers on their 31st day of targeted strike action against company pay cuts. Photo by Alistair Tice

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