AFTER the Tory insult of a 1% pay offer to the heroic health workers, the working class and youth are boiling with anger and are in full support of the RCN setting up its £35 million strike fund.
Workers are demanding that the trade union leaders not only give big donations to the fund but speak up to say that they are ready for action and that all of the TUC trade unions will be joining it. The working class is in full admiration of the heroic health workers.
BMA research shows that: ‘Female doctors say they have “felt compelled to step up” during the pandemic, even though they knew they were at risk. BMA research shows that they have been consistently taking on extra – often unpaid – work to the detriment of their own wellbeing and mental health.’
In a diary, written as part of this research, a female doctor from an acute specialty wrote: ‘As the first cases started to be reported in the UK, we also heard that men were dying in much higher numbers than women, and the chance of serious illness or death was higher the older they were.
‘All of our team members over the age of 50 were male. I knew that although every extra hour at work created more risk to myself, the risk was less than that being faced by my older, male colleagues. Putting myself forwards to work in the red zones and to take on additional clinical work wasn’t something I debated.’
These are the heroes of the working class and they must not be denied a proper 15% wage rise.
As to the conditions of work, a report commissioned by the Royal College of Nursing says: ‘The government’s Covid-19 UK wide infection control guidelines for protecting patients and NHS staff are “flawed and need replacing”. The report found that this review met just four of the 18 criteria the experts deemed essential for a review of its kind.
Crucially, it concluded the review failed to consider a key way the virus is transmitted – airborne infection – about which growing evidence has emerged during the pandemic.
For these reasons, the experts concluded the review provided only a ‘superficial account’ of the available Covid-19 evidence. It added that the government’s guidelines based on the review were in turn “fundamentally flawed and need replacing”.
These are the conditions in which all NHS staff are working. Shame on the Tories. The trade union and the TUC must tell them what to do with their 1%.
Four major unions – the BMA, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives and Unison – have written an open letter to the Chancellor, expressing their dismay at the 1% pay offer made to health workers.
The letter goes on to say: ‘The proposal of a 1% pay offer, not announced from the despatch box but smuggled out quietly in the days afterwards, fails the test of both honesty and fails to provide staff who have been on the very frontline of the pandemic the fair pay deal they need. Our members are the doctors, nurses, midwives, porters, healthcare assistants and more, already exhausted and distressed, who are also expected to go on caring for the millions of patients on waiting lists, coping with a huge backlog of treatment as well as caring for those with Covid-19.’
Shame on the Tories. The whole trade union movement must take action to win with the health workers.
In fact, the whole of the working class is under attack by the Tories and the bosses. Witness the ‘fire and rehire’, with hugely worse wages and conditions taking place at Heathrow, and on the buses nationally where drivers are being subjected to spy cameras, and seeing their bus depots closed and their wages slashed by thousands of pounds annually.
Now, the FBU has been forced to go to court and has launched High Court legal proceedings in a bid to force Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) to finally hand back retired firefighters their full pensions, to which they are entitled. The FBU is one of the unions that has pitched right into the anti-Covid 19 battle, well beyond the call of official duty, and this is the way that they are being rewarded by ‘pensions theft’.
Enough is enough. The TUC must call a General Council meeting to call a General Strike to bring the Tories down, and bring in a workers’ government that will give health workers their 15% and bring in a socialist, nationalised and planned economy.