Sunderland NHS workers joined national strike

Photograph: Ganesh Rao
Photograph: Ganesh Rao

Workers for the NHS in Sunderland joined protestors across the nation to strike against the Government’s decision to overrule a proposed pay rise for NHS staff.

The protest was part of a nationwide strike which saw thousands of members of the Union UNISON take action up and down the country in what was the first NHS strike in more than 32 years.  It is also the first time in history that midwives have gone on strike.

The Sunderland picket line assembled at the Kayll Road entrance to Sunderland Royal Hospital between 7am and 11am on Monday (October 13).

Anne Clay, NHS Switchboard manager said:  “You couldn’t print the things I want to say. We’ve had no pay rise for nearly five years. It’s an absolute disgrace. It is insulting to all the staff. They’re starving us and we just can’t afford it. My pay has gone down nearly £3000.

“These are my last few years at work and they’re ruining my pension plan.”

The strike took place after the Government refused a 1 per cent pay rise for NHS workers; while MPs are due to receive a 10 per cent wage increase.

According to the office for national statistics, NHS staff’s average pay went down by 15 per cent between 2010-2013.

Mark Tyers, health care assistant at Sunderland Royal Hospital said:  “Since the Coalition Government came in they have put us on a pay freeze. Which means as the price of petrol and food and all utility bills have been going up our wages have remained steady. We need and deserve a pay rise. It’s only right and fair we get one. We are more than four years overdue now.”

The strike action has been followed by four days of action with staff refusing to work overtime and ensuring that every member off staff take their allocated breaks.

Regarding the strike, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust spokesman Graham Howard said: “Contingency plans were in place to ensure that our patients experienced as little disruption as possible to their care. Emergency and critical care services – including maternity patients – continued to be a priority and we would like to thank all staff for ensuring that high quality and safe services were maintained by the trust.”#####

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