Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1127/32294
NHS pay: 15% now!
Despite government ministers dishing out billions of pounds in dodgy PPE contracts to their chums, loans to bosses, and £37 billion on a largely failed test-and-trace system, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has offered a measly 1% pay rise to overworked health workers. And for other public sector workers earning modest wages, he has imposed yet another pay freeze.
Along with higher council tax, reductions in Universal Credit, and the freezing of income tax thresholds, it's been estimated that NHS families could be over £1,000 a year worse off. What a kick in the teeth for health workers, over 850 of whom have died from Covid-19 during the year-long pandemic.
And instead of ensuring adequate PPE, good pay, and a larger workforce, all the government seems to do is to encourage the public to 'show their love for the NHS', 'light a candle', or 'applaud' health workers. But all those public expressions of support for the NHS won't pay health workers' rents or mortgages, or the ever-rising utility bills.
Labour has criticised the inadequacy of the government's 1% pay rise but all Keir Starmer seems to be offering is a paltry 2.1% - which was promised back in 2019! Even the austerity-lite Scottish National Party government in Scotland has offered a 4% rise.
Clearly, none of the establishment parties are offering anything meaningful to workers and their families - a reason to support the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition electoral alternative this May.
But in the meantime, the leaders of trade unions representing health workers and the wider working class, must step up to the plate and push forward the demand for a full 15% pay rise to make up for years of inadequate NHS pay rises. At the same time, they must draw up a coordinated battle plan, including strike action, to secure what workers need.
Such a step would enjoy overwhelming public support and serve as a springboard for all those workers elsewhere facing 'fire-and-rehire' ultimatums, savage wage cuts, and redundancies from the bosses, to fight back.
- An immediate 15% pay rise for all health and care staff
- Unions must organise for strike action
- Reverse privatisation. Scrap the Private Finance Initiative. Cancel PFI debt. Bring all outsourced workers and services in-house on permanent contracts
- A fully publicly funded NHS and care system, free at the point of use
- A socialist NHS - democratically run by elected committees, including service workers and users
- We can't trust pro-privatisation, pro-austerity, anti-working-class politicians. For a new mass workers' party
In The Socialist 31 March 2021:
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