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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 November 2007

Support strikers at Northern General Hospital

ELEVEN BULK stores staff at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital (NGH), all Unison members, have now taken ten days of strike action against management plans to impose 20% wage cuts through axing their bonus scheme.

Julie Thickett, spokesperson for the strikers, explains: "25 years ago I signed a contract of employment which stated in its terms and conditions 'hourly rate plus bonus'.

Since then the hospital and the workload has grown massively. And in January the new Hadfield wing opened with an extra six wards to supply. That month, the sterile supplies department was split away from our directorate and us staff in bulk stores were told that we would lose our bonus.

The bonus makes up around £3,000 a year of our wages - a pay cut of 20%! Despite our overtime ban, the Trust refused negotiations, so as a last resort we balloted for strike action. It took three one-day strikes and a two-day strike to force management into talks.

But then they justified the pay cuts to meet their 7% budget savings over two years and the need for 'value for money for patients'.They even suggested we work a few hours unpaid overtime every week!

We agreed to a review of the service as our workload has increased and we are understaffed. But the time and motion consultant has taken ages and rationalisation proposals could even result in job losses, so we went ahead with a one week strike.

We are only a small group of workers but we are solidly together in the belief we are being treated unfairly. The strike move was not taken lightly but support from other trade unions and organisations has been tremendously uplifting.

All through NGH, staff know it could be their departments next. Some wards refused to collect their supplies because they won't 'cross' the picket lines, even though pickets are at the main gates. Such solidarity, plus hot food and drinks on freezing mornings, keeps our spirits up. A heartfelt thanks to you all."

Julie and another striker Linda spoke at a Socialist Party meeting which jointly organised two days of street petitioning and bucket collections raising £400 for the strike fund. If talks don't achieve a breakthrough, the stores staff are threatening an all-out strike.

  • Please send messages of support and donations to: Unison branch secretary John Campbell: john.campbell@sth.nhs.uk, Unison office, Vickers Corridor, Northern General Hospital, Herries Road, Sheffield.
  • Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


    In The Socialist 8 November 2007:

    Sick of the profit system? Come to Socialism 2007


    Socialist Party workplace news

    PCS backs further strike action

    Build the left in the public-sector trade unions


    International socialist news and analysis

    Martial law imposed in Pakistan

    Israel: Café waiters' strike victory

    Free detained Nigerian students


    Socialist Party news and analysis

    'Competition' dominated by a few giants

    Stop and search failure

    Corporate crime: Sign of an out-of-control economy

    Yarl's Wood camp protests

    Jean Charles de Menezes: Unanswered questions after court case

    Why Prince of mortgages resigned


    Socialist Party NHS campaign

    Don't just 'celebrate' the NHS - fight back

    Staff shortages cause stress and anger

    Support strikers at Northern General Hospital

    Health workers strike against sacking


    Education feature

    Education, Education, Education

    New schools but not enough rooms

    NUT elections: "What are we waiting for?"


    Workplace news

    Fight Royal Mail victimisation


     

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