|The News Line: Editorial
Saturday, 31 May 2008
Forward to a public sector general strike to smash Brown’s wage cutting policies
GMB members working in the NHS yesterday voted by over 96% to reject the 2008 pay offer in a consultative ballot on the government’s three-year wage cutting pay deal. A ballot of GMB members working in the Ambulance Service produced an even more resounding 97 per cent rejection of the government offer.
Sharon Holder, GMB National Officer said, ‘The Department of Health must be instructed to put a one year deal on the table that GMB members can accept.’
Unite’s (formerly Amicus and the TGWU) Health Sector National Committee has also met, and backed a resolution rejecting the three-year pay offer.
The response from the NHS employers and from Alan Johnson to Unite’s position was not unexpected.
The letter from Alan Johnson, for example, states that ‘The pay deal is not up for renegotiation and therefore a meeting on this matter would not serve any constructive purpose’.
Unite agreed to move straight to a consultative ballot, authorising industrial action.
The Royal College of Midwives consultation has already shown a 99.7% rejection of the pay offer.
RCM General Secretary Dame Karlene Davis, said: ‘We have strongly argued that, given the outlook for the economy in future years, acceptance of the three-year deal would represent a vote for a real terms pay cut.
‘Midwives are already feeling dejected, demoralised and disillusioned, and the government’s actions on pay are simply fuelling the fire. This is simply a bad deal for midwives and other NHS staff. Midwives are the victims of inflation, not its cause, and the government should not be abusing their dedication and service in an attempt to address its own economic failings.’
The Brown government’s policy of forcing through its three-year wage cutting deal is being blown apart.
It was based on the support of the UNISON and RCN leaderships, and the conviction that if it could keep the support of these two major NHS unions it could impose its will on the NHS.
However the UNISON health conference voted to have a ballot on the three-year deal and such is the hostility of NHS workers to Labour’s wage cutting policies, defeat for the government and the UNISON leaders in this ballot is almost certain.
The opposition of the RCN will then melt away since nurses are on the warpath over job cuts, redundancies and wage cuts.
The stage is being set for a massive industrial action by NHS workers, that will mobilise the entire public sector for action.
In fact, yesterday, hundreds of thousands of council workers were poised to vote to take strike action over their 2.45% wage cutting pay offer.
UNISON has started sending out ballot papers to all its 850,000 local government members in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, as well as seeking to ballot 100,000 members in Scotland on industrial action.
Heather Wakefield, UNISON’s head of local government, said that ‘Four years of real pay cuts have left them choosing between putting food on the table or heating their homes this winter.
‘Costs of all the basics are running high. Bread is up a massive 44%, petrol 21% and mortgage costs 8%, but for 60% of our members this offer means a pitiful £7.50 per week.’
Health and local government are poised for battle, a major offensive to smash Brown’s pay cutting policy is on hand.
Civil servants and teachers have already taken strike action over wage and job cuts and are poised to renew their actions.
Over 100,000 CWU members are also angry at the growing Mail Centre closures and the Brown government’s plans to smash their final salary pensions scheme.
The way forward is as plain as a pikestaff.
The millions of public sector workers must form an alliance and take general strike action to defeat the Brown government’s pay cutting policy.
They should not hesitate to bring the Brown government down and to go forward to a workers government that will carry out socialist policies, which incidentally is the only way to keep the Tories out!
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