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Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 963, 20 September 2017: Fight tuition fees

Search site for keywords: NHS - Tories - Pay - Nurses - Government - Health - Austerity

Tories retreat on pay cap - nurses demand more

Strike to save our NHS!

Health workers marching on the demo for the NHS, 4.3.17, photo Mary Finch

Health workers marching on the demo for the NHS, 4.3.17, photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge)

Steve Williams, NHS nurse

Nurses are already well-paid, according to the Tory MP for Walsall North, Eddie Hughes. This is just the latest example of how out of touch with reality the Tories are.

Try telling it to my colleagues, who have experienced a 14% real-terms cut in pay since 2010. Try telling it to the nurses who are forced to use foodbanks in order to get by.

And it's not just in the pockets of nurses where the pay cap causes harm. With 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies, it has a direct impact on the delivery of care, with ward closures caused by staff shortages.

However, the Tories are in disarray. The parliamentary vote on ending the pay cap wasn't even opposed by Theresa May. Our not so "strong and stable" leader feared the damage a Commons defeat would inflict on her government.

A wage claim of 3.9% has been submitted by the health unions and it is a welcome start. But 3.9% is the same as 'RPI' inflation. So in real terms, it would mean wages only just keep up with price rises.

Health service workers need a decent, real-terms pay rise to start to make up for the lost decade of wage restraint.

There's a rising tide of anger against austerity. In Doncaster, bin workers and staff in privatised care homes are balloting for industrial action in defence of their pay and conditions.

Coordinate the strikes

Then there's the host of disputes reported weekly by the Socialist. The Birmingham bin workers, striking BA cabin crew, and the brave fight of staff at Barts NHS Trust in east London.

The Socialist Party says these actions should be coordinated, and linked to struggle across the public and private sectors, in an uncompromising campaign against the government and austerity.

Nurses are angry. Colleagues of mine who once would never have considered industrial action now ask me when we are going on strike!

That time should be now. Let's give the Tories a winter of discontent that finishes off their rotten government once and for all.






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