UNISON members outside RD&E Hospital in Exeter taking part in national NHS pay strike in October 2014 by Tim Lezard More than 100 strikers this morning joined a picket line outside the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. Members of the GMB, RCM, UNISO …
by Tim Lezard
More than 100 strikers this morning joined a picket line outside the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
Members of the GMB, RCM, UNISON and Unite were out on force to pass on a message to the government that they need a pay rise.
Nationally, thousands of NHS workers were taking action after the government ignored the independent Pay Review Body’s recommendation to award a 1% pay rise of all NHS staff.
Instead, the government took the divisive decision to award the rise only to those on top of their pay band, denying any increase in pay for 60% of NHS workers.
The attitude on the Exeter picket line was one of defiance, determination and anger.
Midwife Pam Conaghy, a UNISON member, said: “We’re being told day-in, day-out that midwives are an essential job. We’re there looking after mothers and babies at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives, throughout pregnancy, throughout birth and throughout the post-natal period as well.
“Women are vulnerable at this time. They need excellent care but the government doesn’t believe the people who deliver that care deserve a pay rise.
“They have declined a 1% pay rise for us, which is a tiny, tiny amount of money in their budget for us, saying they can’t afford it. Then they turn round and give themselves an 11% pay rise!
“So we get fed up, we get upset, we feel demoralised, we have high levels of sickness, we have midwives leaving the profession in droves, and we’re ending up with this team of midwives who are lacking experienced staff, lots of newly-qualified coming through and it’s basically a profession that’s on its knees.
“The spirit on the picket line has been excellent. Most of us are here on days off, very few of us are supposed to be working today and if we are, we’re working late shifts. The response from the public has been really positive, really enthusiastic. We’re getting lots of beeps and waves. It’s just wonderful.”
Staff nurse Di Richardson, another UNISON member, said: “I believe they should be paying us more than 1%. They’ve taken 11%. If there’s no money in the pot, why are they taking that? The morale inside the hospital is not good. We feel disillusioned, unsupported, worthless. The morale out here is much better. The public have ben great.”
Matthew Blackmore, a UNISON member who works in the hospital’s logistics department, said: “We haven’t had a pay rise, and the govt seem to saying we can’t have one, but they’ve managed to have their pay rises.
“It’s quite difficult to survive on our pay, especially as my wife works part-time and we have two little children. We do struggle. There’s been a good turn-out today and good support from the public. We’ve needed something like this to raise our morale.”
Chefs Elizabeth Forrester and Mike White, both UNISON members, said a change to their hours couped with the pay freeze, means they will be £2,500 worse off.
Elizabeth said: “”It’s going to be pretty tough, We’re going to have to make cuts in our household budget because everything’s going up – gas, electric, rent. We just want fair pay.”
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