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Campaign launched against downbanding in Swindon
A big dispute has developed at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, the biggest hospital in Wiltshire.
Two weeks ago management announced that they wanted to force over 70 band six theatre nurses to reapply for 25 posts; the rest would be downbanded to a band five - meaning a pay cut of 15% to 20%.
Many of the affected workers were in the RCN (Royal College of Nursing) but came to the meeting we organised and in just eight days over 30 left RCN to join Unison on the basis that we were going to fight.
Workers are refusing to sign papers saying they wish to apply for the band six jobs despite management saying they will automatically be downgraded after a notice period.
At our meetings we have talked about the likely need to take industrial action which I am confident would be overwhelmingly supported.
These workers realise that they are in a powerful position. The Trust realises that any attempt to implement these changes will be met with strike action.
What's most impressive about the nurses is how quickly they have organised themselves - within their teams and then linking together.
Within a week their mood has completely changed - they are now much more confident. We have demanded that the Trust withdraw the downbanding or face action.
However this Trust was one of the leaders of the South West NHS Pay Cartel and in the last few days has tried to bully staff, and furthermore are reportedly talking about disciplining workers.
If we can win this we could transform the situation throughout the hospital and show that only through militant struggle can we succeed.
A health worker
In The Socialist 30 October 2013:
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