Union vows to continue hospital strike action

The strike outside West Suffolk Hospital in Bury.

The strike outside West Suffolk Hospital in Bury. - Credit: Archant

A union has vowed to continue its industrial action at West Suffolk Hospital in the wake of two strikes in two months over pay.

The government caused outrage among health workers when it refused to implement a recommended one per cent pay increase for health workers in the NHS.

Unison members at the hospital went on strike in October and took to the picket again on Monday for four hours between 7am and 11pm.

Graham Kendall, Suffolk branch secretary for Unison, said: “We will be taking further action. It is unfair to deny health workers what an independent body has recommended.”

Yvonne Cleary, eastern region organiser for Unison, said: “There has been no decision yet on when further action will be taken. We have a meeting on December 16 and it is likely we will be holding another strike in January.

“We are asking members to take action short of striking – taking their breaks and not working overtime.

“We have been carrying out the work to rule all this week and we are encouraging members to carry this on.

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“It is true that health workers don’t want to put patient care at risk so they do not take strike action lightly and it is hard to encourage members to take action.

“But there is real anger amongst staff and also the members of the public. We were joined on Monday by other unions and the public reaction was supportive, more so than in October.

“Over the coming months we will be taking more action and I think the government will begin to realise the public don’t support their attitude towards the NHS.”

Jane Basham, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for South Suffolk, joined health workers at the picket line.

She said: “I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with dedicated NHS staff and union colleagues. They are being treated with absolute contempt.

“This is the only pay review body the Government has ignored. It recommended one per cent, while most MPs have gone along with an 11 per cent rise for themselves.

“They attempt to blame further loss of jobs on those seeking fair pay, rather than on their own futile determination to stick with an austerity policy that isn’t working.”

In Wales and Scotland the independent pay review recommendation has been implemented.

The government argues that the system of three per cent pay increases, given for becoming a more experienced member of staff, means all staff are getting at least one per cent.