NHS and health

Back NHS workers to win 15%

Nursing Times reports that the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendation on NHS workers, is due “sometime this month” (June), despite delay. The PRB was originally supposed to report in May. The Tory government has already said in its evidence to the PRB that 1% is all that is “affordable” — it uses the word 16 times in its submission — and it is the government that makes the final decision. The system of supposedly independent pay review bodies in the public sector — replacing actual collective bargaining between unions and employers — is a farce, designed to shift power further from workers to...

How can there be "surplus" vaccines?

In mid-June, state officials in Michigan warned of over half a million doses of Covid-19 vaccines that were set to expire between then and early August. Around the same time, an Ohio governor warned of 200,000 vaccines due to expire on 23 June. This problem likely faces every state, with over ten million doses of J&J delivered but not administered across the country. An extension to J&J’s shelf-life by the USA’s FDA only provides temporary respite. At a time when fewer than 1% of people in low income countries have received at least one dose, these figures in themselves provide a sharp...

Care workers and vaccinations

Ali Treacher from Care and Support Workers Organise! (CaSWO!) talked to Solidarity There is a real sense of anger among care and support workers following the government’s announcement to force compulsory vaccinations on the workforce. It has been a bitter pill to swallow. We have spent the past 18 months risking our lives in unsafe workplaces, following ever changing government guidelines and trying to stay on top of the science to keep those we support safe. At Care and Support Workers Organise! (CaSWO!) we encourage every care worker to have the vaccination. However, we agree with the...

Kino Eye: Medical pioneers on film

Here’s a film about the man whose name is forever associated with vaccination — the Frenchman Louis Pasteur. The Story of Louis Pasteur (director William Dieterle, 1936) concerns his struggle to convince a conservative medical establishment that diseases are caused by bacteria. He is opposed by Emperor Napoleon III’s personal physician Dr. Charbonnet. The Republican government which ousts Napoleon encourages Pasteur (actor Paul Munni) to continue his research which, in his experiments with anthrax, ultimately demonstrates the validity of his approach. One American review quipped: “If this...

Covid won't end. It can be curbed, with different policies

Sixty-four per cent of applications for the official £500 Covid-isolation payment have been rejected since the scheme was expanded early this year. The councils who administer it complain of restrictive government rules and limited funds. Even after many gains on isolation pay won by campaigning in the last year and a half, 51 per cent in insecure jobs get zero sick pay, and 31 per cent receive just Statutory Sick Pay (SSP, £95.85 a week). 30% of all low-paid workers get just SSP, and 19% get no sick pay. All those figures are from a TUC survey. Back in early 2020, civil service bosses saw a...

Protest for the NHS, 3 July

We’re so used to having the NHS it’s easy to forget it’s not a given. The average family in the US pays about $10,000 a year for health insurance — i.e. just to get coverage. Even for those who have insurance, services and costs not covered in one way or another typically come to thousands more, and have consistently expanded. Tens of millions don’t have insurance or qualify for the limited government support that exists. Even for relatively well-off workers, there is enormous insecurity built into the system: Will you be able to continue to make your insurance payments? What if you lose a job...

Support a 15% rise for NHS workers!

The major front in the war for the NHS over the coming months may be health workers’ fight for a decent pay rise (more accurately, a significant restoration of losses from real-terms pay cuts). Some time in the second half of June the government’s stitched-up NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) will respond to the Tories’ proposal of a 1% increase, i.e. another pay cut. Then, in turn, the government will say whether it will pay the PRB recommendation or not. The Labour Party’s failure to commit to rank-and-file NHS workers’ demand of 15% or £3,000, whichever is higher — or to anything like it: the...

Surveying our workplaces

Our union reps are going to all five big sites in my NHS Trust conducting a health and safety survey of workers in as many teams as possible and looking at ventilation arrangements. Yesterday I got about 60 surveys from around 15 different teams, recruited several new members, a few members who are going to step up to be part of a network of workplace contacts, and possibly one new rep. I found out about really risky work practices in poorly ventilated areas of the hospital that have been developed largely on the hoof by frontline staff. Much of the infection risk could be avoided with...

NHS pay: on the streets, 3 July

Within the next few weeks, the issue of NHS pay will be sharply back on the agenda. The NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) is due to make their recommendation on pay for England and Wales in “mid-June”. That will be followed by an offer from the government. After 18 months of the Covid response which has stretched NHS workers to their limits, proved fatal for over 800, and left many more physically and mentally scarred, the offer will certainly bring disappointment and anger. The immediate focus of campaigning is the well-timed day of action called by Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together, NHS...

"This is about the kind of world we want to live in"

Ali Treacher is a care worker, Unite the Union activist and workplace rep, and Secretary of the Care and Support Workers Organise! network (CaSWO!) She is also a supporter of Anti-Capitalist Resistance. She spoke to us about care workers' fight. CaSWO! has been meeting throughout the last year, since the start of the pandemic, after a Unison-organised call which brought together care workers around issues like workplace health and safety and PPE. The initial focus was basically offering each other solidarity and advice and sharing information. Government guidelines were so vague that we had to...

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