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: opens in new window)

Roger Davey, Unison health sector conference delegate (personal capacity)

At public service union Unison’s recent health sector conference, Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth promised that any forthcoming Labour government would end the NHS pay cap.

This vicious policy imposed by the Tories and Lib Dems has led to real-terms wage cuts of 12% in the NHS over seven years, an unprecedented fall in living standards for health workers.

Theresa May, interviewed on the Andrew Marr show, repeatedly refused to blame the pay cap for nurses being forced to use foodbanks to survive. A record 700 nurses and healthcare assistants applied for hardship grants last year, while more and more turn to payday loans.

So all health workers will welcome this policy announcement.

Ashworth stated there would be an independent ‘pay review body’. Unfortunately, previous pay review bodies have proved to be totally ineffective – like the current one, which just works to the government “pay envelope.”

What a Labour government needs to do is immediately bring in a minimum wage of £10 an hour without exemptions, as a step towards a real living wage, plus a new pay settlement that would recover all the money workers have lost over the last seven years.

This should be part of an overall plan for a publicly owned, democratically run, fully funded comprehensive health service, free at the point of use: a socialist NHS.

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