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Nursing staff strike shows way forward
OPERATING THEATRE nurses at Barnsley Hospital staged a 24-hour strike on 21 May over threats to their jobs and a real wage cut. Management want to reduce cover at night and plan to downgrade some theatre staff in an attempt to shrink the annual wages bill by £1.5 million.
85% of theatre staff - including nurses and operating department practitioners - had voted to take action. Another 70 GMB members in support roles voted to impose a work-to-rule in protest.
Properly explained, this kind of action will get the support of many people who are worried about the state of the national health service. The trade unions within the NHS need to be fighting the attacks through protests and industrial action, both locally and nationwide.
Campaigners for the NHS and against such cuts nationally will be mobilising for 5 July, the NHS's 59th anniversary day when there will be a protest in Parliament Square. They will also be building for 13 October, the date of the long awaited union-organised national demonstration in central London.
Start gaining mass support for these events now among health workers and anti-cuts campaigners and make sure that we urge many thousands of people to march and protest in defence of our health service.
Even the RCN forced to ballot
THE ROYAL College of Nursing has decided to conduct an indicative ballot of its NHS members over possible industrial action over pay.
The government has ignored a pay review body's recommendation of a 2.5% rise and offered 1.9% for this year.
The indicative ballot will ask members if they want to be balloted on industrial action and what sort of action could be acceptable.
Under RCN rules, members cannot take any type of industrial action that is harmful to patient care but the indicative ballot is an historic step for the organisation.
In The Socialist 24 May 2007:
Labour Party leadership
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
Environment and socialism