OVER 300 NHS workers and their supporters from Barts’ and St Thomas’ Hospitals marched from St Thomas’ to Trafalgar Square.
Unite had called a 2-day strike in 4 NHS trusts over a number of issues, mainly the huge shortfall in pay over the past 15 years, which has resulted in many staff leaving and not being replaced. This was the second of two marches called during this strike.
News Line spoke to some of the strikers.
Jacqueline, Edith and Comfort are all domestics at the Royal London said: ‘We have been working hard all through covid and before and since. Not only have we not had a decent pay rise, we were due a lump sum payment and we never got it.
‘Other people did and that’s not fair.’
Rob Harvey, Unite rep at Whipps Cross, said: ‘All of the members in the Barts trust are out on strike. We started yesterday and there was a good turnout. We are fighting to save the NHS and for fair pay. Patients are at risk from understaffing and workers’ rights are being declined. People are doing twice the work because of shortage of staff. We have had several private companies, ISS, Serco and even Carillion. Now we’re back in-house, and the government is blocking our pay.’
Len Hockey, Unite Branch Secretary at Barts, said: ‘The dispute is against the government’s limit of 5% on our pay, which is a real terms pay cut. And also about the non-payment of the lump sum which was agreed.’
Lizzy Fergusson, a speech therapist was on the picket at St Thomas’, and told News Line: ‘We have had 13 years of pay cuts and they offer us 5%. It just won’t do. Our jobs should be properly paid. You need a Masters degree and the NHS used to pay for that but doesn’t any more.’
Onay Kasab, Unite official addressed the marchers before they set off: ‘The government says you are all being greedy. I’ll tell you what greedy is.
‘It’s MPs on a good salary with subsidised lunches saying we can’t pay our healthcare workers properly. We just want fair pay, dignity and respect.
‘There are 300 to 500 excess deaths every week because of how the NHS had been run down. Unite is not just complaining about this – we are taking action! We will win fair pay to have a decent NHS,’ he said to applause.