Photo Credit: Alex Yeung – stock.adobe.com
By J McNicol (TU Group)
Nurses in the RCN have voted to reject a further pay cut in the latest round of negotiations with the government. This marks a significant uptick in the ongoing battle to claw back years of brutal wage suppression imposed upon frontline nursing staff over the last decade and more of Tory rule. Nurses now join junior doctors in escalating what is effectively a fight for the NHS’s survival as a functioning, free at the point of use, world class healthcare provider.
The media, predictably, will be framing the crisis in terms of affordability and the unreasonable demands of a ‘militancy’ within the health unions. This is of course nonsense, the NHS has been systematically and deliberately underfunded and understaffed and driven to the point of collapse for the last 13 years to prepare it for privatisation.
Driving down wages is an integral imperative within the privatisation paradigm to keep investors interested, it is not about ‘affordability’ or fuelling a wage inflation spiral. The Tories claim it would cost 2 billion to settle the junior doctors’ attempt to restore their pay.
Bear in mind that during covid when frontline staff risked their lives day in and day out to treat patients and maintain care, the Tories squandered and gifted billions in useless PPE and crony contracts and a test and trace system that had no material effect.
The Tories regularly treat taxpayers money as an ATM to enrich themselves and their donors. That is indisputably true given the eyewatering sums involved during the covid crisis alone. So the argument that pay rises are unaffordable is an absurdity.
This is not about pay, this is about destroying what amounts to the single greatest social achievement in post war history, our beloved NHS. As the great socialist Nye Bevan so accurately predicted: ‘the NHS will last as long as there’s folk with faith left to fight for it‘.
Doctors know it, nurses know it and are willing to fight for it. The Tories and sickeningly, the private healthcare funded Labour Party know it too. The fact that RCN leaders recommended the offer to members is also a worrying aspect of this dispute, thankfully they were largely ignored and a VONC was even threatened to predictable media silence.
The class war is raging. Solidarity is our greatest weapon.
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