Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/803/18306

From The Socialist newspaper, 19 March 2014

Smash the pay freeze

Organise for strike action now

Adrian O'Malley, Unison Health Service Group Executive (SGE), Yorkshire and Humberside, personal capacity

Tory Health Minister Jeremy Hunt has declared war on NHS workers. He has decided not to award a 1% ‘cost of living’ pay rise to around half of NHS England staff this year. Next year, a similar number of staff will again be denied the ‘cost of living’ rise (see below for more details).

The announcement was greeted with anger but hardly surprise by NHS workers who have grown to expect the worst from the Con-Dem government. The main question I have been asked is: "what are we going to do about it?"

Workers in Mid Yorkshire Health Trust demonstrated their determination to fight back last year when they took nine days of strike action.

After being threatened with pay cuts and compulsory redundancies, the admin and clerical staff won an improved pay and job protection deal through this action.

Public sector unions Unite and GMB responded to the latest pay news by saying they will ballot for strike action.

Even the no strike RCN has murmured that it may lift its strike ban, arguing that nurses have lost over £2,000 in real terms since 2009.

Members of the biggest NHS union Unison, who were looking for a fighting response from our leaders, were left disappointed.

Head of Health Christine McAnea merely said: "we will be talking to our members about how we respond."

But four years of below-inflation pay rises have resulted in a 10% pay cut in real terms. The squeeze on pay is compounded by the third year of increased pension contributions which will gobble up 3% of the paltry 1% rise.

Added to the 3% "efficiency savings", ie cuts, in NHS budgets and staffing, this means that NHS staff are working harder every year for less money.

At the Unison national conference in 2012, general secretary Dave Prentis proclaimed to rousing support that the union will "smash the pay freeze".

Two years later we are still waiting for action and our wages are falling further behind the cost of living.

Unison has got to take a lead and announce a strike ballot of its 500,000 members in the NHS alongside our local government and higher education members who are also in dispute with their employers over the pay freeze.

Unison's health SGE meets on 2 April. The SGE must make a stand and recommend strike action to the union's health conference which starts on 14 April.

The conference should become the launching pad for the strike ballot which could smash the pay freeze.


URGENT: Prepare for strike to smash pay freeze

Rob Williams

The hypocritical tributes from the mainstream press and capitalist politicians to Bob Crow and Tony Benn have grated on workers.

In contrast, ordinary people have remembered how it wasn't just that Bob and his union fought for their members, it was that they often won, ensuring that railworkers in particular have been able to protect their jobs and living standards.

This must be the approach with which the continuing pay freeze in the public sector is challenged by the unions.

There is absolute outrage that millions of workers will have their pay again pegged to 1% when RPI inflation is nearly 3% and even the government's preferred indicator, CPI, is almost double the pay offer.

Already, local government unions have put in a pay demand of £1 an hour across the board. As the RMT has shown, to win the unions must show they will fight for this.

All activists in the public sector must immediately bring motions to their union branches and shop stewards' committees calling for their unions to organise strike ballots to break the pay freeze. They should also call for the strike action to be coordinated.

These ballots must be linked to a campaign for a vote for strike action, involving mass meetings, including workplace meetings, so all members can have the opportunity to debate the strategy.

The recent tube strike showed that there would be massive public support for strike action to protect workers' living standards.

The heroic seven-day strike of low-paid porters and ancillary staff in Ealing hospital and also by care workers in Doncaster show the potential for coordinated action that could unite in-house NHS workers with those working for outsourced companies and agencies. Among the workers taking action the idea of a 24-hour strike is very popular.

In early 1988, 38 nurses took unofficial strike action in Manchester that ignited what became a mass movement to defend the NHS from Thatcher.

Months later, well over 150,000 people marched in London as well as countless local protests. There was a mood then for mass generalised action but the right-wing union leaders cut across it, as they did after the 2011 public sector pension strikes.

As Adrian O'Malley says above, "the Unison health conference should become the launch pad for the strike ballot which could smash the pay freeze". That means activists preparing the ground now.

The campaign can also be fought in the vital elections in PCS, NUT, Unite as well as Unison. Members should vote for candidates who support a fighting strategy.

As the 2015 general election nears, some union leaders have argued that joint strike action should be put on the back burner in the hope of a Labour government.

Yet Labour leader Miliband agrees with the pay freeze. Ed Balls is "daunted" by the prospect of becoming chancellor in a Labour government continuing Tory austerity but undaunted in committing to maintaining the pay freeze.

Mass strike action now, up to and including a 24-hour general strike, would shatter the lull that is allowing the cuts consensus to dominate the political mainstream.

This yet again shows why the unions also need to urgently discuss launching a new mass political vehicle that inscribes opposition to austerity on its banner. Now is the time to strike.


Progression pay under threat in NHS

Under Hunt's plans, NHS staff on the top pay point for their band will get a below-inflation 1% pay award in 2014-15 and 1% in 2015-16. But this is not raising wages by 1% in either year. It will be paid separately, alongside their salary, and because it is 'unconsolidated' it will not raise overtime or shift pay and will not count towards pensionable pay either.

But, it will be taxable and student loan repayments will be deducted from it! This will do little to address the rising 'cost of living' which it is supposed to.

Staff who have not yet reached the top pay point for their pay band will not even get this miserable insult.

They will receive incremental pay, but already veiled threats are being made about increments being awarded in future on the basis of management interviews, 'target-based appraisals' etc.

It's not hard to imagine what that will be like in the era of cost-cutting at all opportunities.

Trying to blackmail the unions into accepting real-terms pay cuts, the government says that it will 'consolidate' the 'cost of living' awards in 2015-16 - but only if the unions agree to staff foregoing incremental pay rises, and negotiating away other contractual entitlements.

This is trying to force a real-terms pay cut on all NHS staff in a divisive way, with an agenda of cutting costs and devaluing the pay bands, making it cheaper to privatise and cut jobs.

In Scotland, the 1% is being given to all staff this year. In Wales, it appears negotiations are being offered by the employers, but on the basis of the reduced pay budget which Hunt's attacks are founded on.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 19 March 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Smash the pay freeze

Tony Benn: steadfast in speaking out for socialism

After Bob Crow and Tony Benn: We fight on!

No to bosses' EU - For a socialist Europe

Unite to end racism and cuts

Osborne's more cuts budget

Oxfam report: A tale of capitalist inequality

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Crimea referendum will not deliver peace and stability

South Africa: WASP registers for the 2014 elections

Activists in the US demand $15 Now!


Socialist Party workplace news

Defend education: Solidarity with teachers' strike

Doncaster care workers determined to win

Ealing hospital workers fight miserly Medirest

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Fight for real jobs for young people

Election Appeal: Put your money where the struggle is!

Get your May Day Greetings in

Pensioner jailed for non-payment

TUSC campaigning in Derby

Obituary: Stan Pearce, a Militant miner


Readers' comments and reviews

Review: Call the Midwife

Genetic Modification: A contribution to the debate


 

Home   |   The Socialist 19 March 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Pay:

triangleLocal government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

triangleDemonstrations by uni students and staff greet Bath vice-chancellor resignation

triangleArriva bus strikers stand firm

trianglePCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference

triangleAmber warning lights flash on British economy

Strike:

triangleDriving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

triangleSchool staff strike against privatisation

triangleTeachers strike in Sheffield

triangleDramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

NHS:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleTyneside walk-in closures postponed after rally

triangleBranson sues NHS: kick out the profiteers

Unison:

triangleBrighton Uni lecturers strike against job cuts

triangleLeeds college workers protest poor pay rises

Health:

triangleGlenfield victory shows people power can save our NHS

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

8/12/17

Government

Local government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

6/12/17

Labour

Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

6/12/17

NHS

Branson sues NHS: kick out the profiteers

6/12/17

Immigration

Royal wedding exposes them-and-us visa system

6/12/17

Banks

RBS to sack 1,000: nationalise the banks

6/12/17

Homelessness

Rough sleeping crisis: make homes, not arrests

6/12/17

Poverty

End Tory war on poor

6/12/17

Rail

Nationalise rail now

29/11/17

Them & Us

Them & us

29/11/17

Homes

Tory housing policy: build zilch, hike prices

29/11/17

Wages

Make the Tories history

29/11/17

Birmingham

Birmingham bin workers win!

29/11/17

British economy

Amber warning lights flash on British economy

23/11/17

Pay

After the budget - unions must launch pay fight

22/11/17

Climate change

Carbon dioxide hits 800,000-year high: end profit-driven pollution

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the full 5% claim

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

triangle30 Nov Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

More ...

triangle11 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Campaigning workshop

triangle11 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas Quiz

triangle12 Dec Birmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

triangle12 Dec Liverpool Socialist Party: Fighting council cuts

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2