Sheffield TUC backs NHS strike on Monday 24th November

Sheffield TUC backs NHS strike on Monday 24th November

PRESS RELEASE

Sheffield Trade Union Council has added its voice to the many messages of support flooding in for
our hard-pressed NHS workers taking strike action in Sheffield on Monday 24th November – the
second national NHS strike action in as many months. The strike will last for 4 hours from 0700hrs to
1100hrs and will then be followed by a week of “work-to-rule” in which NHS workers will take their
full breaks. Unions taking part include UNISON, GMB, UNITE, and Royal College of Midwives  as
before. This time they will also be joined by Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians
(UCATT), Society of Radiographers (SoR), British Association of Occupational Therapists
(BAOT), Managers in Partnership (MiP) and Prison Officers Association (POA).

The initial four hour strike will then be followed by a further period of action short of strike action. In
addition to the above unions, the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) and British
Dietetic Association (BDA) will not be taking strike action on 24 November but will be asking their
members to take part in a week of action short of strike action between Tuesday 25 and Sunday 30

November 2014.

Martin Mayer STUC Secretary said “NHS workers including nurses, midwives, porters and technical
staff will be taking another round of strike action on Monday and they deserve our support. This
Coalition Government has hammered pay and conditions for NHS workers since 2010 and now
Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State has refused to implement even the measly 1% pay rise
recommended by the Government’s own pay review body. They should be congratulated on taking
the very tough decision to take strike action and fighting back against 5 years of pay cuts in real
terms under this Government’s austerity programme.”

Monday’s strike – and the subsequent “work-to rule” for the rest of next week – will affect Sheffield’s
two major hospitals at Northern General and Hallamshire as well as the Yorkshire Ambulance
Service. There will be two end-of-strike rallies outside both Hallamshire and Northern General
Hospitals at 1000hrs with a range of speakers including Labour MPs etc.

Noting that this year’s pay freeze comes on the back of the Tories and LibDems’ NHS privatisation
drive under the NHS Reform Act, Martin Mayer said “This attack on pay is directly linked to the
Coalition Government’s privatisation drive of the NHS – in the face of massive public opposition. But
these new health service privateers – including global multinationals and profit hungry corporations
like Care UK- are put off by decent NHS pay and conditions which eat into their profits. That’s the
real reason why Jeremy Hunt is refusing to implement even an across the board below inflation rise
of just 1% ”

“The recent strike at Care UK in Doncaster is a stark illustration of this”, said Martin Mayer. “When
Care UK won the contract off Doncaster Council by undercutting the NHS bid by just £0.1M, they
then cut workers pay by up to 35%. These UNISON members have won the respect of millions of
people nationwide for taking 90 days of strike action this year in defence of their pay and conditions.
In so doing they have also exposed how NHS privatisation can only take place if NHS terms and
conditions are attacked.”

One health union, UNITE, has recently published research showing the close links between private
health care companies and 71 Tory and LibDem MPs who voted for the NHS Reform Act, including
David Cameron, Nick Clegg – and current Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who is said to have received
donations of £33,000 from US-based hedge fund chief Andrew Law who owns equity in private
health care companies and has donated more than £1.2M to the Conservatives. Andrew Lansley,
Jeremy Hunt’s predecessor as Secretary of State and the main architect of the Bill was handed
£21,000 by Care UK to fund his personal office. David Cameron made nursing and care home tycoon
Dolar Popat a peer shortly after coming to office in 2010. Dolar Popat’s company TLC Group has
donated £200,000 to the Conservatives – and has since won £4M in NHS contracts. Sheffield Lib Dem
MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has received a donation of £5000 to his constituency
office from Alpha Medical Consultancy, whilst Vince Cable is said to have received £2000 from
Chartwell Care Services which owns private hospitals providing day care surgery to NHS patients.

“From lobbying links to investments and in some cases direct donations, scores of coalition MPs who
voted for the NHS sell-off had links to the very private healthcare companies which stood to profit”
said UNITE General Secretary Len McCluskey.

“Fortunately the Labour Party is taking a very different stand following lobbying from the trade
unions” said Martin Mayer. “We are delighted that Labour has pledged to repeal the dreadful NHS
Reform Act and end the marketplace in our NHS. Furthermore they will inject £2.5B per year into our
cash-starved NHS, employing 5000 new home care workers, 3000 new midwives, 8000 new doctors
and 20000 new nurses. This is good news not only for NHS workers but all of us who want to defend
our NHS.”

The Labour Party has already demonstrated its renewed commitment to our NHS by backing Clive
Efford MP’s Private Member’s Bill yesterday in Parliament (Friday 21st November) to stop the worst
excesses of NHS privatisation. Tory and LibDem Ministers were too embarrassed to turn up and
defend their plans, so the Bill passed its first reading by 240 votes to just 18 – a much bigger victory
than expected.

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