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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 July 2020

Tory NHS betrayal

photo Rohin Francis/CC

photo Rohin Francis/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Trade union action can force full funding

Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak promised us all that the government would give the NHS "whatever it needs." Now he's refusing to stump up the cash.

NHS England has reportedly requested 10 billion to stay afloat during the next wave of Covid-19 and the hard winter months. Really, this should be a minimum, given the years of austerity and privatisation that emaciated the service before coronavirus. Sunak says no.

And what about frontline workers themselves? Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised a "reward" for NHS staff. But he refuses to commit to the reward they most need and deserve - a decent pay rise and more staff. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson ineptly tried to blame mass deaths in care homes on care workers!

NHS workers spoke to the Socialist about the Tories' treachery. "Yet another betrayal from this government of liars," said one ancillary worker. "They will hand over billions to their mates in private companies like Serco - who fail again and again. But when they are asked for money for the NHS, suddenly the coffers are bare."

"The only thing the Tories can be trusted to do is to attack both the pay and conditions of health workers, and the NHS itself," said health worker Roger Davey. "To secure a decent wage increase, and a fully funded, publicly owned NHS, we will need to fight for it - which will have to include industrial action."

"Typical hypocrisy from the Tories," said Matt, a nurse. "They stand and clap for PR reasons while continuing to attack, privatise and destroy our NHS. Staff are called heroes, yet forced to turn to use food banks due to poverty wages. After the 72nd anniversary of the NHS, never forget the Tories fought the creation of the NHS, have tried to get rid of the NHS ever since, and are doing everything they can to sell it off today."

"The promised additional hiring was conducted through the back door, on a casual basis. We haven't gained the reinforcements we need," said porter William Jarrett.

"Temporary contracts have lapsed. Workers who sacrificed their safety and fought valiantly alongside permanent staff have been sent home for good. Student nurses who cared for patients have been dismissed as worth a fraction of the value of their colleagues. Workers are burned out and exhausted, and totally demoralised by the prospect of an imminent second wave."

"We are tired but we are also angry. We've stood together as workers to fight this pandemic, despite the idiot behaviour of our government," said radiographer Maggie Fricker.

"It's made us aware of our strength, and we won't be taken for granted. They think they can brush aside what we've been through and offer us nothing. They need to think again."

"Shame on this Tory government - now trying to blame its shambolic response to Covid-19 on care workers," said nurse Tom Hunt.

"How low can the Tories get, promising funding then trying to wriggle out of it with their smoke-and-mirror tactics? All care homes should be publicly owned, fully funded, democratically controlled, with decent pay and conditions for all workers."

"Health workers had the NHS winter crisis - trying to treat patients with dignity, but without enough staff, beds or resources. Then Covid-19 hit like a bombshell, causing upheaval, anxiety, many to become ill and 300 to die," said Jon Dale, secretary of the Unite union Nottinghamshire NHS workers' branch.

"After all that, this year's pay rise for an experienced 'Band 5' nurse is 42 a month - after a 400-a-month real-terms pay cut since 2010. Meanwhile, MPs have given themselves (yet another) 200-a-month pay rise."

"Health workers haven't gone through what we have to be treated like this," said porter Len Hockey. "We are angry at being put at risk and patronised. We are part of the six-million-strong trade union movement.

"This now needs to be met with preparation and organisation by our union leaders for national industrial action."

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 8 July 2020:

Workplace news

Fantastic virtual NSSN conference: "Fight for our lives and livelihoods''

Homerton hospital workers deserve equal pay and conditions

Jobcentre reopening: only union struggle will put safety first

Southampton UCU: election victory for combative rank and file

Tower Hamlets council workers strike against wholesale attack on terms and conditions

Nottingham unions fight council job cuts


Fight for every job, fight for socialism

Tory NHS betrayal

Young people have no choice but to fight the system

Leicester: End the scandal of sweatshop labour

Covid pandemic and Northern Ireland - workers must resist the bosses' offensive

1,600 less benefits if your job goes - while super-rich splash cash

Testing: Tories' 5bn gift to private sector

Johnson blames care workers for deaths

3bn green pledge: not enough for climate or jobs

Poverty rises again - especially for BAME workers

Them and us

No going back

No going back: Nationalise social care!


The best place to start - join the Socialist Party

Trans rights protests oppose Tory backsliding

Black Lives Matter - the fight is not over

International news

Hong Kong: The fight for democratic rights

Bangladesh: Stop closure and privatisation of Jute Mills

Readers' opinion

TV: The school that tried to end racism

Books that inspired me: The Fire Next Time

The Socialist Inbox


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