Staff on strike at UCLH
Published: 17 October, 2014
By TOM FOOT
NURSES, ambulance paramedics, therapists, cooks, cleaners, and midwives joined picket lines outside Camden’s three main hospitals on Monday.
The four-hour strike, from 7am to 11am, was called after the government refused to increase NHS workers’ pay by more than 1 per cent.
UCLH staff, including senior nurses from the cancer wing and around 30 midwives, walked out of the hospital to join protest chants led by Unison rep Janet Maiden.
She said: “It was a brilliant atmosphere. People came out, quite bravely given the circumstances. One came off the night shift and told me they felt really militant. There were four or five senior cancer nurses and the midwives were fantastic.”
Ms Maiden said her chant – “One per cent – we say no, David Cameron has got to go” – was reverberating around the hospital.
For many NHS workers the strike was the first pay dispute of its kind since the 1980s. The row has been inflamed after a recommendation from the NHS Pay Review Body to increase pay was rejected by the government.
The scene at UCLH was repeated outside the Royal Free and Whittington hospitals where picket lines were also in force.
Royal Free Unison branch rep Jim Mansfield said: “Today was the first time in 32 years that our members have taken strike action over pay. They sent a clear message to the government that they deserve fair pay and the government cannot take advantage of their goodwill any longer.”
At the Whittington, CND members unfurled a banner saying: “NHS Not Trident.” Many people believe the shortfall in NHS funding, around £20billion for the next five years, could be met if the UK’s nuclear deterrent was axed.
Unison’s regional secretary Linda Perks said: “NHS members don’t take action often or lightly. Staff are on average 10 per cent worse off than when the Coalition came to power. Their families are suffering and morale is hitting rock bottom.”
Unison, Unite and GMB unions have called off their local government pay strike which was scheduled for Tuesday.
The RMT has also suspended its strike, which was due to shut down sections of the tube network.