by Len Hockey, Unite Bart’s health branch secretary (personal capacity)
Waltham Forest: Burnt out but fighting back
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 (your area) and call on all shop stewards, members, delegates and affiliates to support it.