Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/946/25348
Strikes can end nurses' poverty pay
Unions and Corbyn must lead NHS action
Matt Whale, NHS nurse
Three thousand nurses have been forced to take out payday loans, according to data received by the Sunday Mirror - and that's just in the last six months!
This is a direct consequence of the real-terms pay cut of 14% nurses have had over the past seven years of Tory rule. Nurses' union RCN also highlights the worrying trend of nurses turning to food banks in order to feed themselves and their families.
The government's disdain for the NHS is clear. Vicious cuts to funding, hospital closures and privatisation of services are putting patients' lives at risk. Now the staff who somehow keep the NHS together despite all the attacks are turning to legalised loan sharks and food banks in order to make it from month to month.
But we aren't taking these attacks lying down. The inspirational struggle by junior doctors has given confidence to NHS workers that we can struggle, that we can take on the government.
The RCN is taking historic steps towards potential strike action, polling its members to find out if there is a mood for a formal industrial action ballot. Unison, the largest health union, must do the same.
Action gets results, as NHS domestic staff in east London recently showed - with victorious snap walkouts against removal of their tea break. With the support of the health unions and the public, we can win.
Anger is growing within the nursing profession at the state of the NHS, nurses' pay and the quality of care we are able to provide. A genuine campaign across the unions against cuts and to scrap the pay cap - with the genuine threat of industrial action - could force the Tories back.
A nurses' strike with full support from our brothers and sisters in other sectors would be huge. To build support for strike action and anti-austerity policies, Jeremy Corbyn, the health unions and the Trade Union Congress should call a second national march for the NHS during the election campaign following the very successful one on 4 March.
The NHS is at breaking point. Workers and the public need to come together in defence of our NHS, and in defence of the brilliant staff who make the NHS the incredible service it is.
In The Socialist 26 April 2017:
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