The Socialist 18 September 2019 |
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Lincolnshire health visitors strike boost
Lincolnshire health visitors, organised by general union Unite, protesting against a council-imposed pay freeze, photo by Mansfield Socialist Party (Click to enlarge)
Striking Lincolnshire health visitors felt boosted after Jeremy Corbyn gave his support at the recent TUC congress. Three Unite union reps got a standing ovation from congress delegates. They came away feeling their battle is becoming a national issue.
Health visitors have now been on strike 26 days during the past two months against a council imposed pay freeze (ie pay cuts) - the first time ever health visitors have been on strike as a profession.
A health visitor Unite rep from Boston spoke to Jon Dale of Mansfield Socialist Party about their action:
"When you come out on strike it's empowering as you meet all your colleagues facing the same problems.
"I haven't enjoyed the strikes because we don't want to let our families down, but if we don't fight they'll get a worse service in the future.
"I'm seeing a family now with four children. The mother's on maternity leave not getting paid and the father - a farm worker taking home £6,000 a year - got injured and isn't getting paid.
"They can't afford a car or to take the family on a bus. I've had to give them food bank vouchers and take the food to them.
"Our families are suffering from cuts Lincolnshire County Council has carried out. We don't see our families as 'Key Performance Indicators' as senior managers do.
"We spend a long time building up relationships with families, but managers are stopping us doing any preventive work - it's all reactive. People can't be tick boxes. They're cutting down our home visits and expecting families to come to our clinics. How many more can they squeeze into our day?"
More health visitors have joined Unite from other unions and joined the strikes as the dispute has gone on. However, three months after their ballot, the strike is now being suspended for a further ballot to continue action.
Those on council 'junior health visitor' rather than NHS contracts, not involved in the action so far, are also being balloted and will hopefully join further strike action.
Having applauded health visitors at the TUC, trade union leaders now need to organise real solidarity action and bring together all public service workers facing similar issues. Against such a weak chaotic government, united trade union action could help bring a Corbyn anti-austerity government to power.