THERE was a very lively and well-attended rally at the front of the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel yesterday lunchtime, with delegations of Unite strikers attending from four different NHS trusts.
Strikers from Barts Health, East London Foundation (ELF), Barking, Havering and Redbridge and Guys and St Thomas are fighting for fair pay.
Onay Kassab, Unite NHS Organiser told the rally: ‘This is about pay. You can’t have an NHS unless you pay people a decent wage. It’s about saving the NHS and it’s about safe staffing ratios in every part of the NHS.
‘The government are saying in their new laws that patients won’t be safe when we strike. What about the NHS not being safe on all the other days of the week?
‘It’s a scandal that NHS bank workers are not getting the non-consolidated lump sum. There is only one force in society to save the NHS and that’s the trade unions.’
Striking ancillary workers Felicity Bola and Carmen told News Line: ‘The strike is about kitchen, domestic and catering workers who used to work for Serco not having received the consolidated sum of £1,650 for last year which should have been given in April under the Unite agreement with Barts Health Trust to take NHS workers into the NHS on Agenda for Change contracts.’
Clinical psychologist Che Rosebert, from ELF, said: ‘There should be a general strike. A collective voice is the best kind of voice when you want change. There’s a huge staffing crisis in the NHS, very many staff have mental health problems because of poor pay and heavy workload across all job roles. If enough of us say no we want something else we’ll get it.
‘We have to save our NHS. I don’t think the general public realise that most of the NHS is being privatised. The government is pushing people into health insurance instead of addressing their needs. Most NHS buildings are in poor condition, like the schools.’
Ben Taylor, IT worker said: ‘People across all industries are striking because of decades of Tory cuts going back to Thatcher. A massive struggle is coming in this country and we need action against this government.’
Anna Frenken, clinical psychologist, said: ‘It’s about fair pay and safe levels of staffing.
‘We want to see proper investment, I work in mental health. We’ve seen significant staff cuts in the last ten years and waiting lists getting longer. There is chronic underfunding and staff burnout. I support a general strike.’
Today at midday there is another mass picket St Thomas’ Hospital opposite the House of Commons, followed by a march to Trafalgar Square.