UNISON health members are taking five days of action for NHS fair pay next week – starting first thing on Monday morning.
They will be joined by colleagues in other unions and, for the first time in their history, midwives are also taking strike action.
The strike action – the first in the NHS over pay for over 30 years - takes place from 7am until 11am on Monday 13 October. This will be followed by four days of action short of a strike, on Tuesday 14 October to Friday 17 October, focused on making sure members take their breaks.
Gill Foden, a pharmacy technician with the Christie NHS Trust in Manchester is taking action next week because she wants to “stand up for what I believe is right”.
“And I don’t want this government to keep walking over everyone. If we don’t stand up for ourselves now, with this strike, if they get away with this offer, what are they going to do next year, and the year after that? We will just become worse and worse off.”
Anthony Mooney, a mental health nurse working in children and adolescent mental health services with The Sussex Partnership is striking “because of the unfairness of the government refusing to uphold the pay review body’s decision, while MPs are giving themselves an 11% pay rise.
“And I’m prepared to keep striking until we get what we need.
“I used the NHS pay loss calculator on the UNISON website and found that I’ve lost between £5-6,000 over the past few years. I showed that to some of my colleagues. They hadn’t quite realised it was that much. It was quite a shock. And because of that they have decided to join the strike.
“One of my colleagues is leaving her job here. She wants to stay in children’s services, but these wages have made it difficult. She’s found a job closer to home, to save money on travelling costs.
“Another colleague, who is part time and has two children, regularly speaks about having to make difficult decisions at home, about what to spend money on and what not to spend money on. She finds it really stressful.”
Eleanor Smith is a nurse at Birmingham Women’s Hospital and former UNISON president. ”I’m striking because under this government we have had no pay rise,” she says.
‘When they’ve given it with one hand, they’ve taken it away with the other. The cost of living has shot up, while our pay has remained static, leaving us way behind a decent standard of living.
“That’s not just nurses, but all our low-paid staff as well.”
“They have shown contempt for us. And that contempt is what is making NHS staff so angry.
“The fact that the midwives are taking action for the first time in their history sends a strong message to our own members – that we’re gaining momentum.
“Everybody sees midwives as moderate. But they have had enough as well. And they are coming out.
“I think the government is taking it for granted that they can carry on regardless, in this way, because NHS staff don’t want to lose public sympathy. But actually, we’re gaining the public’s sympathy.
“I talk to patients in my job, and they understand. They always say, ‘You deserve more’. And so do the general public. After all the bad publicity, all the propaganda, the public are still with us.”
In addition to the four hour strike on 13 October, members in the ambulance service will be called on to work no overtime during the period 14-17 October.
UNISON members working in the NHS in Wales are currently being balloted for action, with the ballot closing on 20 October.