UNISON General Secretaries visit Waterloo picket line to support striking NHS workers

For the second time this year, as many as 400,000 health workers in England took strike action for four hours from 7am yesterday in protest at the government’s refusal to grant them a pay rise.

Before last month’s day of action on 13 October there had not been a national strike over pay in the NHS for over 30 years.

Nurses, midwives, paramedics, radiographers, consultants, managers, hospital porters and cleaners, administrative, catering and maintenance staff, and other health service workers were on strike.

They are angry that the government continues to ignore the recommendation of the independent pay review body and is denying NHS workers a pay rise.

By the end of the next financial year, health workers will have had their pay capped for six years, says the TUC.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady attended a picket line at the London Ambulance Service (220 Waterloo Road, SE1 8SD) from 8am on Monday morning. She was joined UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis to both show their support for health workers taking part in the pay protest.

Commenting on the strike, Frances O’Grady said: “Health workers care passionately about their patients and the quality of service they provide, and so are always reluctant to take action.

“But the government’s refusal to accept the recommendations of NHS independent pay review body – even though it only called for an affordable, below-inflation pay rise – leaves health workers feeling that they have no other option.

“It’s not too late for the government to change course and award health workers the pay rise the public knows they deserve.”

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “The anger is spreading and so is the public support for health workers’ cause. The strength of feeling is far from fading and the dispute far from going away.

“If the Secretary of State seriously thinks staff are the NHS’ best asset then he needs to treat them fairly. We are only asking for decent pay for the hardworking people the government says it cares so much about.”