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Revolt against pay cuts strengthened at Mid-Yorkshire NHS
Yorkshire Socialist Party members
Mid-Yorkshire NHS Trust admin and clerical workers in the Unison union took five days of strike action against pay cuts from Monday 28 January to Friday 1 February.
The mood of the pickets remained strong throughout the week and, if anything, hardened as the week progressed.
The highlight of the week was the Trust board lobby on the Thursday morning. Over 150 strikers turned up and burned copies of their new contracts in front of the local press.
This was shown that evening on the local ITV news and received widespread publicity elsewhere.
We also sat in on the Trust Board meeting and heckled the board as they rubber stamped the directors' actions. "I can't believe their arrogance," said one striker.
HR director Briggs said his down-banding (pay cut) proposals had met 'overt staff resistance supported by the trade unions', ie they'd rejected it and balloted for industrial action to fight it!
Briggs said the Trust had offered two preconditions for discussing any alternative - that the union call off further strikes and agreed to work towards saving £500,000 from the admin and clerical budget, excluding the voluntary redundancies the trust had already secured.
These redundancies have already caused havoc. There's evidence medical secretaries have been hired via an agency to deal with the workload.
When Briggs announced that the Trust is expected to make 4-5% cuts each year, heckles includerd "You're gonna cut our pay again then", "Cut your own pay", and "Sack Ernst & Young".
The latter, one of the 'big four' accounting firms, were paid £425,000 in December alone, almost as much as the Trust say they need to save.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis visited the picket line on the Friday morning. Under pressure from the pickets and strike committee members, Prentis said he'd support a Trust-wide ballot, promised financial and staff support for the strike, and to write a letter to members urging them to vote for strike action!
Remarking on the new members of the branch, Prentis said that the strike was "the best way to recruit".
So far, 162 dismissal and reengagement notices have been sent to members.
The Trust admitted to the local press that they have not received one back so far, showing that workers are solidly refusing to back down.
The strike has achieved nationwide publicity and should encourage other NHS workers to fight back. Now we need Prentis and Unison to live up to the branch-wide ballot promise to allow a trust-wide strike to defeat this vicious management.
In The Socialist 6 February 2013:
Socialist Party NHS campaigning
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party reviews and comments
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis