Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1137/32615
We're building for 3 July NHS protests
Waltham Forest: Burnt out but fighting back
Len Hockey, Unite Bart's health branch secretary (personal capacity)
Burnout among NHS workers - evident before the pandemic and greatly exacerbated during it - underlines the urgency for the national leaderships of the health unions to link up a coordinated response, including strike action. This could answer the crisis, and take on this weak government.
Recently, in Waltham Forest, I moved a motion (see below) to the trades council, the body that coordinates the unions in the borough. That won support for a Waltham Forest trades council-led demo on 3 July at the main gate at Whipps Cross hospital, in support of a 15% pay increase for NHS workers, as well as outsourced workers employed by Serco at the hospital working as cleaners, porters, caterers, reception and security guards.
3 July will see a countrywide expression of anger and frustration at the accelerated undermining of health services under the Tories - five million now on waiting lists, huge staff shortages, and workers continuing to leave the service due to falling real pay and deteriorating working conditions, linked directly to lack of funding.
All this threatens to undermine the right to free healthcare that the working class won at the founding of the NHS in 1948. Whipps Cross workers have a history of fighting and winning against the effects of privatisation.
Strike action, with the solidarity of the wider community and workers' movement, can not only secure the 15% pay increase we deserve, but also prepare the ground for future socialist struggle for a massively expanded, democratically controlled and adequately resourced socialist NHS, including nationalising big pharma and the medical supply industry.
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 call on all shop stewards, members, delegates and affiliates to support it
Basildon: Strike action must come next
Health workers and their supporters in Essex are planning to mark the NHS birthday by taking to the streets for pay justice. With over 100,000 unfilled job vacancies in the health service, alongside the campaign against cuts and privatisation, this is a fight for the survival of the NHS.
Local nurses and health workers plan to march from Basildon Hospital to the town centre, building on the success of a demonstration organised by nurses in mid and south Essex NHS last August.
We're promoting the 3 July event by leafleting hospitals, and the trades union council is calling on trade unionists to back the demonstration and turn out. We are certainly promoting the event on our local Socialist Party campaign stalls.
We will hear speakers from the Royal College of Nursing in Essex and representatives from the Thurrock refuse workers, who recently scored a win against their employer over pay cuts (see socialistparty.org.uk).
All of us involved in building for the demonstration are very clear that this event must be just the beginning of a determined fight on pay, and that in the end this will mean industrial action. Already we are planning for the next - this is likely to be a motorcade.
Last summer's pay campaign was cut across by the return of lockdown. 3 July is our chance to reignite last year's spirited and well-supported campaign, and take it to the next level.
- Assemble at Basildon Hospital at 11am on Saturday 3 July for a march into Basildon town centre
Barry: Anger at Labour's Tory cuts
Now that lockdown is lifting, the Socialist Party campaign stalls in Barry in south Wales - calling for a 15% pay increase for NHS workers - have restarted. The response has been really good. We've spoken to health and care workers who are outraged over the proposed 1% pay 'rise', and agree with us that the Welsh government could have done more to resist the cuts from Westminster.
Everyone has their own stories about how the NHS has helped them. It's clear that many still see the NHS as a proud tradition of their lives. And there is a mood to fight for it. "We need our own party. Now I agree with that", was the response from one local resident.
One NHS worker told us horror stories of hospitals so under-resourced that rooms were left unlit, and nurses transformed into 'jailors' by understaffing on mental health wards.
Many Barry residents still remember the shameful attempt by the Welsh Labour government to shut down the local Sam Davies ward, that thankfully was saved by a campaign led by health workers in Unison, which the Socialist Party supported. Closures like this left our NHS ill-prepared to deal with Covid.
This behaviour from the Welsh government isn't surprising. At the height of austerity it passed on £1 billion worth of Tory cuts to the Welsh NHS.
Current Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford was health minister while that brutal austerity campaign was carried out. There's anger at the Welsh government for doing the Tories' dirty work.
Barry Socialist Party member Kevin Gillen stood for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in the Welsh Parliament election in May. As a result, we picked up a list of supporters and potential members for the Socialist Party. One has joined already.
In The Socialist 9 June 2021:
What we think
Lessons from history