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Dundee porters force NHS bosses to retreat
The strike by 117 Dundee hospital porters is gaining huge support from across the city and beyond. The Unite union members began selective strike action nine weeks ago and, as we go to press, are now in their fourth week of all-out, indefinite action.
Unite is demanding a regrading from the current band one - the lowest in the NHS - and back pay for years of lost wages. The majority of porters in Tayside are on band two, as is the case in the rest of Scotland.
After claiming that the porters had no case, NHS bosses have been forced onto the retreat. They have now offered that the porters grading can be reviewed by the Scottish Terms and Conditions Committee (STAC).
"The mood at Ninewells and Royal Victoria hospitals is solid and determined," porter and Unite senior steward Graham Nelson told the Socialist. "We'll go through the STAC process and see where it takes us. But we've made it clear that the strike goes on and we've refused any attempts to make the process binding. If we don't get what we want, we fight on until we do."
"Thousands of pounds have been collected in the buckets on the picket lines donated by NHS workers and the public. One doctor the other day put in £100 as he walked past. We've also had £5,000 from NHS Unite branch in Glasgow, £1,000 from Tayside Unite ambulance branch, £500 from Dundee University UCU and £250 from Dundee City Unison. We'd like to thank everyone for their support, and the local pub for all the free tea and coffee for the strikers."
The strike is having a major effect inside the hospitals. Reports of band eight managers - who are on £70,000 a year - desperately running around trying to cope with piles of work normally done by the porters - on £12,500 a year - are widespread.
The porters will lobby the Scottish parliament. The SNP has made much of being "anti-austerity" during the current election campaign. In practice they have been silent over the porters' dispute, a strike the health minister and Scottish Government could end tomorrow if they acted to ensure the porters were paid what they are due. The Dundee porters are proving that workers have real power when they fight.
Please send messages of support to Graham Nelson on 07749 241470.
Donations to Unite, 110 Blackness Road, Dundee DD1 5PB (cheques payable to Unite). Facebook: Support Ninewells Porters
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