ANGRY NHS workers were on picket lines outside hospitals and ambulance stations around the country yesterday as around half-a-million members of ten health unions went on strike.
It was the second strike in a month against the government’s refusal to pay all health workers the miserable 1% pay rise, as recommended by the government’s own Pay Review Body.
The unions on strike were: Unison, Royal College of Midwives, Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians, Society of Radiographers, British Association of Occupational Therapists, GMB, Unite, Managers in Partnership and Prison Officers Association.
Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary, said: ‘The fact almost all health unions are taking part in the industrial action should ring alarm bells in Whitehall.
‘The anger is spreading and so is public support for the health workers’ cause. The strength of feeling is far from fading and the dispute far from going away.’
Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer said: ‘Reports from across the country are that the second wave of strike action by GMB members has been rock solid. The response is testament to how NHS staff feel about the injustice in the pay offer. Public support is growing.’
On the picket line at the London Ambulance Service Headquarters in Waterloo Road, central London, GMB senior organiser Andy Prendergast told News Line: ‘The turnout for today’s strike is very solid. It palpably shows the anger at the pay rise being taken away.’
At nearby St Thomas’ Hospital, RCM member Mary Sladden said: ‘It’s a real shame we have to take this action, it’s an amazing job we do, we’re working long hours, we rarely get a lunch break because we are concerned the women will be without the care they need. Cutting the one per cent shows a real lack of respect for us and the work we do.’
There were 200 workers picketing at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, north west London. John Cass, Unison member and maintenance engineer, said: ‘I haven’t had a pay rise for five years, I am very disillusioned because everything is going up, I can’t even afford to heat my own home.
‘We should get rid of all the privateers from the NHS and bring back everything in house. We should bring back the hospital kitchen. The food for patients comes in pre-packed frozen meals, has little nutrition and the patients don’t like it. We need everyone coming out together to save the NHS.’