Tamara Hopewell Barreda goes to UCL’s nearest picket line to talk to the midwives on a four-hour strike
Thousands of NHS workers went on a four-hour strike today in a dispute over pay. Among them were midwives, nurses and ambulance workers who have been denied a 1% rise in pay that was promised in 2009. This is the first strike by the NHS in more than 30 years and the first ever by the Royal College of Midwives since its foundation. Although robust plans were put in place to ensure patient safety, and workers were there for time critical cases, military personnel and police were on stand-by in case ambulance services needed help.
— Julie Sherry (@Juliebsherry) October 13, 2014
Anna White, a midwife at University College Hospital and one of the RCM stewards on the picket line, highlighted that the mere fact that they were on strike showed the real anger that they all held, as going on strike in the NHS isn’t something they can easily do. They have conflicting feelings about striking – they know how desperately they are needed but they feel they have been left with no other option. “I love my job, but I’m disappointed with the way we have been treated. It’s not fair, and we have no other option,” she said.
She reaffirmed that hospitals were still providing ‘life and limb’ cover – many of those on the picket lines, such as herself, were actually on their day off. They were there representing not only themselves but also those workers who had been unable to strike due to their commitment to their patients. Many NHS staff who were unable to strike were seen proudly sporting badges while working to show their support of the strike.
An independent pay review board said that the 1% increase was possible and should be implemented across the board. However, the government have said that pay rises are not a viable option. That MPs took the advice of the same independent board that their salaries should increase by 10% has added further insult to injury for many.
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) October 13, 2014
The pay increase for NHS workers has been implemented in full throughout Scotland. No decision has yet been made in Northern Ireland, and Wales has followed in the footsteps of England, although their lowest paid NHS workers have had their salaries increased. Although the strike is now over in England, there has been sporadic action in Wales and action is being planned in Northern Ireland.
Featured image credit: @Juliebsherry