THE BURNING issue of NHS workers’ pay is so explosive that the Tories left it to the very last day that Parliament sits before the summer recess to release the pay offer of 3% for some NHS workers and 0% for many others.
NHS workers have waited for over 100 days for this insult after the government’s initial 1% offer and then the Pay Review Body recommendation of 3%. There is not a single progressive feature in the government proposal! Three per cent is a below-inflation pay cut.
Even the three per cent is not applied to workers across the board. Many NHS workers get zero per cent out of this proposal. Junior doctors don’t get a penny from this deal. A 15% pay rise remains the absolute minimum that is acceptable to any NHS worker.
Responding to the NHS pay announcement, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said: ‘We will be consulting our members on what action they would like to take next.’ Doctors’ union the BMA said: ‘Over the coming days and weeks, the BMA will be talking to members affected by today’s announcement to better understand what next steps they may want the Association to take in response to this offer.’
The GMB said: ‘Unions will now consult their members to determine their approach to the 3% pay award.’
Unite said that it would be consulting its health members on the next steps with a range of options on the table, including a consultative ballot for industrial action with the option to strike.
The trade union leaders are all fiddling while Rome burns!
Trade union leaders don’t need to call for long drawn-out consultations, they need to call strike action! The government has declared war on their members and the union leaders declare the need to be consulted!
This prevarication has got to stop. Either the trade union leaders call massive strike action or they must be unceremoniously booted out of office and replaced by a new combative leadership.
NHS pay is a life or death question! Over 1,000 NHS workers have died during this pandemic. Many got infected and died because they did not have the most basic protection – gloves, aprons, and masks.
NHS workers are furious that while the new variant is spreading like wildfire, the government has not only reopened the economy, they have removed the essential restrictions that reduced the spread of infection.
No masks, no self-isolation, no social distancing are driving the NHS into a further existential crisis. This crisis is made many times worse through the lack of nurses, lack of doctors, lack of NHS staff, of beds, of ambulances, and a lack of Intensive Care Units (ICUs).
This is not a natural disaster. It is Tory-made – a product of their systematic campaign of NHS cuts and closures, leaving the system short of 40,000 nurses. In fact, a third of Covid-19 deaths were not in hospitals, they were in care homes. There was a deliberate policy of clearing the NHS beds of elderly patients, and sending them into care homes without even being tested.
The Tories have savaged the NHS for over a decade, closing A&Es, maternity units, children’s departments and entire hospitals up and down the country.
The government has actively discouraged students from studying to become the next generation of midwives and nurses. They axed the student bursary and removed the student grant, replacing it with a loan. The current system throws student nurses and midwives into over £50,000 of debt on graduation.
This government has created a hostile environment for NHS workers. The 3% so-called ‘pay rise’, with nothing for junior doctors and nothing for many other NHS workers, is the final straw.
The whole country stood by the NHS during the pandemic. Carers were cynically lauded by the government as ‘heroes’ and then kicked in the teeth. The entire working class is very, very angry over this issue.
The whole country must now stand up and fight alongside the health workers. There must be a general strike in Britain, to bring down the Tories. The whole working class must tell the TUC leaders to do their job, or ‘we will get you out!’
Leaders who refuse to fight will be immediately replaced with a revolutionary leadership. This leadership will lead the working class to bring this government down and go forward to a workers’ government and a socialist planned economy.
All workers and youth must join the WRP and its Young Socialists youth section to organise the British socialist revolution. This is the only way forward!