Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1127/32276
From The Socialist newspaper, 31 March 2021
Cumberland hospital workers fight for stolen pay
Carlisle save our NHS march 8 April 2017 photo Brent Kennedy, photo Brent Kennedy (Click to enlarge)
Carlisle Socialist Party members
Cleaners, caterers, porters and switchboard staff at the Cumberland Infirmary are fighting for a decade of unsocial hours' payments that have been stolen from them.
This extra payment is very important to these low-paid workers. The Hospital Trust, Health Management Carlisle (the investment firm which owns the hospital) and Mitie - which took over the contract from Interserve - are all blaming each other. But somebody has pocketed the money earned by these essential workers!
Strikers have told us about bullying managers who deny them sufficient equipment, and serious concerns over hygiene. They have been refused overtime as punishment for going on strike, while agency workers are paid £20 an hour to cover their shifts! More than half of all domestics at the hospital are now agency workers.
The government's 1% pay rise is a kick in the teeth for NHS workers, who have already put in over one million hours of unpaid overtime during the pandemic after suffering a real terms pay cut of around 20% over a decade of austerity.
The 2.1% suggested by Labour is completely inadequate. The government has already set an inflation 'target' for the Bank of England of 2%. This 'offer' will leave workers just standing still. The SNP's 4% offer to Scottish healthworkers is also little more than a gesture.
- PFI has been a costly disaster. The Infirmary should immediately be taken over by the state - and the tax-dodging speculators can go whistle
- All services should be taken back in-house, and all workers employed on NHS contracts with trade union rates of pay, including appropriate payment for working unsocial hours
- The trade unions should fight for a 15% pay rise for all NHS and care workers, and link this to a campaign for a massive increase in investment in order to renationalise and rebuild our NHS
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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.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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