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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 October 2020

Stop NHS meltdown

Demanding a 15% pay rise for NHS workers, 8th August 2020, Manchester, photo Sally G

Demanding a 15% pay rise for NHS workers, 8th August 2020, Manchester, photo Sally G   (Click to enlarge)

The Tory government's failed response to the Covid-19 pandemic means that the NHS is facing a major capacity crisis - that's before the pressure of the 'winter flu season' kicks in.

Nearly three million people have missed cancer screenings since March, and four million people are waiting for elective surgery - a figure that NHS chiefs expect to grow to a record ten million by the end of the year.

Ending staff shortages is the key to keeping the NHS afloat. The government in its election manifesto pledged an increase of 50,000 nurses by 2024-25. But this would only match the current shortfall. In addition, there are another 60,000 vacancies in the NHS.

Rather than just applauding NHS workers or giving out a few medals, the government should be engaged in a massive recruitment drive, linked to increased pay rates to overcome a decade of austerity.

Instead, Johnson and Co simply bung billions of pounds in undisclosed contracts to private companies to deal with the pandemic.

As usual, the Tories are putting profit before people. But healthworkers are fighting back and are being supported in their public demonstrations by fellow trade unionists, community campaigners and Socialist Party members.

Holly Johnson, a nursing sister in Sheffield, explains why she and her fellow healthworkers are taking action over pay.

"Years of Tory austerity, pay cuts and freezes have meant, in real terms, a 20% pay cut for many NHS workers. We are devalued as a profession, with job roles and responsibilities expanding and working conditions worsening. This is not to mention a brutal first wave of the pandemic, and we're about to face another - tired, stressed, and many of us suffering with long-term health problems related to contracting Covid.

"A fair pay rise would directly affect patient safety, actively halt the outsourcing to staffing agencies, and help bring the NHS back into public ownership and protect it.

"'NHS Workers Say NO!' is a grassroots-led movement, formed after we were overlooked in the public sector pay rises. It started as a Facebook group. We quickly organised action for our protests on 8 August, and have been building from there. There are over 84,000 members now and several local groups around the country.

"We are demanding a 15% pay rise for all NHS workers. I am the lead organiser for Sheffield and, with the help and support of Sheffield Save Our NHS and members of the Sheffield Socialist Party, there have been several actions. There is a national week of action from 12 to 16 October.

We will continue to build and organise in our workplaces and gain public support. We are not going away!"

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 14 October 2020:

Coronavirus news

Locked down, hard up, fight back!

As school cases soar - is contact tracing 'near breaking point'?

Even more delay in stopping school transmission?

National Education Union must launch action now

Nottingham Covid surge caused by Tory mismanagement

Under the microscope


Students not to blame for unsafe uni conditions

"It's not fair" - lockdown students demand free education

Students speak out: isolation and uncertainty reign

Building a movement to fight for free education

What we think

Unite votes to cut affiliation fee to Labour

Workplace news

Usdaw elections: the battle for a fighting union

NEU Special Conference: A fight for safety in schools is urgently needed

Napo AGM 2020: Celebrating probation victory and preparing for challenges ahead

University workers ballot for action against in-person teaching

Stop Royal Mail's profit-driven plans to force postal workers to share vans

Unison: The Socialist is backing Hugo Pierre - for a fighting socialist general secretary!


Are cooperatives the answer to a failing capitalist system?


Stop NHS meltdown

Transport for London funding crunch

Oliver Campbell - Still fighting for justice

Fighting Fund - we're off to a good start


Obituary: Raph Parkinson 1958-2020

International news

Greek workers and socialists celebrate convictions of Golden Dawn fascists

Nigeria: Mass protests force government to disband killer cop unit

Readers' opinion

Non-fiction: This Land - the story of a movement

The Socialist Inbox


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