The four hour stoppage in health yesterday was a great credit to NHS workers and to the union. A clear message was sent to the Government that we can’t go on with year after year of falling pay. I was impressed by the strength and energy of our picket lines and by the public’s overwhelmingly positive response to the strike.
Jeremy Hunt was nervously touring the TV and radio stations trying desperately to justify his unjustifiable decision to withhold even a 1% cost of living pay rise for NHS staff. Meanwhile, there were great stories of solidarity around the region, with doctors at the Christie providing striking colleagues with tea and biscuits, and with the domestics at Aintree Hospital being applauded back into work at 11am. The campaign continues this week with action short of a strike – where NHS staff will take their scheduled breaks.
I think the public mood is with us. Yesterday saw the front page of the Financial Times report that the directors of FTSE 100 companies soared by 21% last year, while the Times reported that a senior cabinet member had identified the restructuring of the NHS as a mistake. It is increasingly clear that the NHS is not safe in the current Government’s hands and that their attempt to keep pay down in the public sector is not driven by financial necessity but by political choice.
We must keep up the pressure for a fair deal for the NHS and for all public sector workers.