Health workers protesting outside Whittington Hospital today
Published: 24 November, 2014
By ALINA POLIANSKAYA
RADIOGRAPHERS, midwives and nurses joined forces today in the latest bout of strike action over low pay.
Staff formed picket lines outside the Whittington Hospital in Archway, Royal Free in Hampstead, and University College Hospital in Euston from 8am until 11am.
The industrial action was called after a ballot by Unison, the Society and College of Radiographers and the Royal College of Midwives.
Claire Dixon, branch secretary of the Unison at the Whittington, who also works in the haematology department, said that some members of the union had not received a pay rise in five years and many were being “driven to poverty under this government”.
She said: “After the first strike that we had four weeks ago, they refused to get round the table and even talk to us, which we think is treating us with absolute contempt. Our argument is they can fund wars, they can prop up the bankers, they can find money to pay themselves a pay award of 11 per cent and yet they can't fund the most needed workers of all in the public sector like the health service.
“We have got tremendous support from the public and patients, everybody expresses their despair really at what this government is doing to the NHS and health workers. We've got radiographers, midwives, clinicians, and nurses from A & E here today and we hope the government can be woken up and come round the table, otherwise this is going to be an ongoing dispute.”
Chairwoman of Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition Shirley Franklin and branch secretary of Unison Claire Dixon
Also on strike at the Whittington was Sian Tilsley, 43, a radiographer from east Finchley who has been working at the hospital in Highgate Hill for 12 years. She explained that over the last few years, the pay freeze combined with an annual rise in pensions has left her financially worse off.
She said: “They say that they only want to give the one per cent to people at the top of their pay bands, but the fact is I am at the top of the my pay band, even if I do get my one per cent it is negated by the fact that my pension has gone up by one per cent. My grocery budget does not go as far any more, I really am struggling, I have childcare costs to pay and it is making it difficult for people on the front line of the NHS.”
Her frustration was combined with a sense of injustice that came from MPs “looking after themselves” with an 11 per cent pay rise, as well as fears of privatisation.
Sian Tinsley, second left, front row, with members of the Society of Radiographers outside the Whittington
She added: “I believe that they are starving the NHS of funds so that they can section off parts of it to the private sector. Lots of other trusts have outsourced things like their ambulance service so getting patients to and from the hospital is now done by a private service in many areas. And not only that, the potential TTIP movement coming in, means the government can be sued by private corporations.”
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is an international pact that may make it difficult to prevent privatisation of the NHS.
At UCH, striking nurses received £200 raised at an event in University College London on Thursday where The Enemy Within documentary about the 1980s Miners' Strike was screened to members of the Haldane Society.