The beginning of this week saw the largest strike in NHS history take place, as our paramedics and blood and transplant members joined the RCNs nurses on picket lines across England. For over 70 years, the Conservative Party has made a conscious effort to attack and undermine the essential service the NHS provides, through backdoor privatisation and barbaric austerity measures. The father of the health service, Aneurin Bevin, described the Tories as ‘lower than vermin,’ a characteristic that remains all these years later.
In the neighbouring territories of Wales and Scotland, their devolved governments have averted further industrial action, by listening to the concerns from members of staff throughout the health sector, approached them, and brokered deals covering pay, terms and conditions. Meanwhile the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, and the governing party he belongs to, continue to drag their expensive Cuban heels along the carpets of Westminster; whilst NHS staff across England take to the picket lines, to fight tooth and nail for their voices to be heard. The sentiment across board is these workers do not want to strike, however, the governments lack of initiative to resolve their concerns in a suitable forum is leaving them with no choice but to take action.
Whilst Barclay and his colleagues continue to play party politics, spreading malicious bile throughout the press about Labour’s affiliation with militant unions, the general public can disseminate the truth from their lies. The public know that militancy has long since been expelled from the trade union movement, as well as within the Labour Party. Furthermore, all those workers throughout the health service who are standing in solidarity on the picket lines are hardworking, decent and honest people; as are the Labour MPs and councillors who come out in support of said workers.
Moreover, there have been countless donations from members of the public, from hot beverages to biscuits, and money donated to several strike funds. Not to mention the dozens of messages, car horns and social media likes and shares across a plethora of platforms that indicate the public is on the side of those key workers who sacrifice so much to provide care to our loved ones, from the cradle to the grave.
GMB Union North West & Irish region has a simple and clear message for Barclay and rest of this shambolic Tory government; stop hiding in Westminster, come out to the picket lines, and listen to our members concerns. They are not political footballs to be kicked around and vilified throughout the mainstream press, they are hard-working individuals, who sacrifice time with their families and turn down opportunities to improve their livelihoods, in order to work long hours and provide a service that no one could live without. It is shameful that the Tories feel it is acceptable to put party politics above people and patients. Barclay must get around the table and talk pay now!
Neil Smith, Political Officer
Written and edited by Shaun Nash, Campaigns and Communications