Health workers walk out in Harlow

Health / Mon 13th Oct 2014 at 06:50pm

NHS strikeBY Siobhan Wood

THOUSANDS of health workers, including nurses, midwives and ambulance staff, have taken part in the first strike over pay for more than 30 years.

Many from Harlow stood by the YWCA roundabout in Harlow for four hours in the pouring rain and received very vocal support from car drivers as they bibbed their horns.

Disruption was minimised after unions agreed staff would make sure emergency care was covered.

YH spoke to a number of strikers and asked them why they had walked out.

Royal College of Midwives steward, Bobbie Phippin, : “Our dispute is not with the women for whom we care, it’s for those who are telling midwives they’re not worth a one percent pay rise. We’ve worked hard to ensure that services are available to women who need urgent care such as those in labour and that means that some midwives are working today. But today’s message is clear: midwives deserve a one percent pay rise.”

RCM Steward Alison Steele, “We want to find a solution to this and our door is always open to our government and other employees. All we’re asking for is a one percent pay rise which is what Scotland have given to their midwives and the NHS staff and we really feel that all staff should get one percent whereas at the moment if you’re at your full increment you’ve got a one percent pay rise which they’re taking back again after a year and the next year they’re given two percent which they’re then taking back again so in three years’ time we actually end up back where we started. The majority of the midwives here are on their day off or have worked a night shift – this is the first action we’ve ever taken and we feel so strongly that this action should be taken.”

Nick Levene, Biomedical Scientist said: “We’re here because we’re not happy about the government and what they are doing with our pay. Over the last few years most staff have probably seen a ten to fifteen percent decrease in their real terms pay and the government have refused to implement a one percent consolidated pay rise across the whole of the NHS. This means that we have got a lot of staff now that are really struggling to make ends meet, especially on the lower wages. We’ve got an NHS system and we want to bring the best into the system.

“We are here today to protest for all NHS members and make ourselves visible and show our feelings because certainly for biochemistry and microbiology, all the laboratory technicians, the public doesn’t really see us in the forefront. We’ve had so much support, it’s been brilliant, and to see the midwives out as well for the first time in their history is really quite a significant moment. It’s been fantastic today and hopefully it will at least make the government think about where they’re going with us and where they need to go in the future.”

YH also filmed interviews with Unison secretary, Waida Forman and Labour candidate, Suzy Stride.

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