‘The historic Royal College of Nursing’s decision to strike on December 15 and 20 reflects the depth of the crisis in the NHS’, Ruth Styles told the Communist Party political committee on Tuesday evening (November 29).
Up to 100,000 nurses across England and Wales are taking action for the first time in the union’s history, demanding higher pay as annual inflation rises above 10 per cent.
‘Last year, 25,000 nursing staff left the Nursing and Midwifery Council, many of them fed up with being overworked, underpaid and undervalued in our underfunded NHS’, Ms Styles pointed out. This year, the NHS has spent £3bn hiring agency workers in an attempt to fill the gap, while waiting lists for elective surgery have soared above seven million.
‘Now we learn today that UNISON health workers have voted to strike over pay and staffing levels, underlining the need for coordinated as well as generalised action against the Tory and ruling class offensive’, the Communist Party chair announced.
But she said the key question is whether this gathering strike wave across the public and private sectors will go beyond an ‘economistic’ response to the cost of living crisis and develop into a broad and political working class counter-offensive.
While strikers are winning public support on a scale not seen for decades, Britain’s Communists are calling for more solidarity and action in local communities through a ‘united front’ of unions, trades councils and anti-cuts, housing and environmental campaigners.
The CP political committee urged support for the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom and Institute of Employment Rights conference on December 3 and the People’s Assembly all-Britain conference on January 14.
‘These can be important building blocks towards the formation of a united front at national level, fighting to bring down a corrupt government that priorities military spending, nuclear weapons and war over the health, heating and housing needs of the people’, Ruth Styles concluded.