Almost half a million NHS workers are on strike today in their first walkout over pay for more than 30 years.
Members of several Unions are involved: Unison, Unite, GMB, Royal College of Midwives (RCM), Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, Managers in Partnership, British Association of Occupational Therapists and the construction union Ucatt and PCS are all striking.
Workers are rightly angry about the ConDem government decision to deny them even a 1 per cent wage rise. NHS workers have suffered below-inflation pay rises — a cut in real terms — since the coalition took power in 2010.
Unison national officer Christina McAnea said: “This is the first time in 32 years that NHS workers take industrial action over pay, and for many, it will be the first time.
“Up and down the country, hundreds of thousands of workers are out fighting for fair pay and for the NHS.
“The fact that so many unions representing a range of NHS workers are taking action today or preparing to join future actions should send a clear message to the government.”
Significantly, today is the first time the RCM has ever taken strike action.
Chief executive Cathy Warwick condemned the government for telling midwives that they aren’t worthy of even a 1 per cent rise when MPs are set to stuff another 10 per cent into their pockets.
“And politicians wonder why the public does not afford them more respect,” she said.
“It feels to a great many people, including midwives, that there is one rule for them and another rule for everybody else."
“I ask them to think of the pressure midwives have been under for years, made worse by a shortage of staff that never goes away.”
The strikers have agreed to respond to emergencies.
The strike will begin a week of industrial action, which will see almost a quarter of a million PCS members in the Civil Service strike on Wednesday and climax with the massive TUC Britain Needs A Pay Rise demonstration on Saturday.