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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 May 2021

Organise for 3 July NHS pay protests

Demanding a 15% pay rise for NHS workers, 8th August 2020, London, photo Judy

Demanding a 15% pay rise for NHS workers, 8th August 2020, London, photo Judy   (Click to enlarge)

Mick Suter, Sheffield Save Our NHS chair

Saturday 3 July will be the first opportunity for workers to voice their opposition, on the streets, to the Tory government's shambles dealing with the pandemic - 150,000 Covid deaths, 25,000 in care homes, and the lack of protection to NHS staff with over 250,000 catching Covid. 850 NHS workers have died.

These are the rewards for NHS and other key workers from the Boris Johnson government, while their friends and cronies reap huge profits from public sector contracts through the ongoing privatisation gravy train.

'Health Campaigns Together', 'Keep Our NHS Public', 'NHS Workers Say No', and 'NHS Staff Voices' have called for nationwide protests. It is important we build for rallies and demonstrations on 3 July to show the anger and opposition.

In Yorkshire and Humberside, we are planning three regional protests in Sheffield, Hull and Leeds. Planning meetings with nurses, NHS staff, trade union councils, civil servants, education workers and health campaigners are taking place to organise these events. The four organisations that have called the protests have produced leaflets plus resolutions and letters for trade unions.

Socialist Party branches are drawing up plans of action. We need to contact the local health groups and find out what plans have been made. If there are no plans in your area, then look to form a steering committee and contact NHS, other trade unions and health campaign groups to participate in building for the protests.

The Socialist Party demands:

Build the campaign to prepare for industrial action

Roger Davey, Chair Wiltshire and Avon Unison Health Branch

Following the sacrifice and commitment from NHS staff throughout the pandemic, and if you consider that health workers are now 15% worse off in real terms than we were in 2010 - you could reasonably assume that we would be rewarded with a substantial pay rise.

However, we have been told that the limit of what the government is willing to pay us is a measly 1%. In effect, that workers will have to pay for the Covid crisis not just through our health, but also with further cuts to living standards.

After the financial crisis in 2008, we were made to pay for the crisis caused by the capitalists. This time our message has to be that that someone else has to pay - that someone being the super-rich!

In order to achieve success we need a national and local programme of action that seeks to mobilise workers everywhere. We need to be prepared to take the fight into the workplaces and onto the streets, including building for a national demonstration.

Such a campaign can give real confidence to health workers, and will apply pressure to the Unison leadership to reject any paltry offer from the government, and prepare for a successful ballot for industrial action.

Pass this motion in your local union

We give full support to the National Health Service and NHS workers. We condemn the derisory pay offer from the Tory government to NHS staff, and agree to support any campaign from NHS unions for a substantial increase in pay within the NHS. This should apply to all NHS workers, including outsourced staff who should be brought in-house to work directly for the health service on NHS pay, pensions, terms and conditions.

We also condemn the Tory government's public sector pay freeze and the employers' 'fire and rehire' strategy. We call on all relevant unions to campaign in preparation for national coordinated strike action to end the pay freeze and the attempts to lower wages and conditions.

We call on our national union to work with other unions to call a national demonstration to properly fund the NHS and end privatisation.

'Health Campaigns Together', 'Keep Our NHS Public', 'NHS Workers Say No', and NHS Staff Voices' have called for demonstrations and rallies on Saturday 3 July 2021. We agree to play a role in building for a rally and demonstration in... and calls on all shop stewards, members, delegates and affiliates to support it.

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Finance appeal

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.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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