Health workers in Unison, Unite and GMB will strike for 12 hours on Thursday 29 January, with a planned follow up of 24 hours on Wednesday 25 February.
This follows a series of 4 hour strikes in October and November over NHS pay. Unions are also calling on members to “work to rule” for the days between the two strikes.
Health unions are calling for an immediate 1% consolidated pay rise for all NHS staff, with a further consolidated award for 2015-16 and future increases that they hope will restore the value of NHS pay.
However pay in the NHS has been frozen for four years, resulting in a 12-15 per cent drop in wages for health workers. A 1% increase will not remedy this and unions should be fighting for a much higher pay increase.
Since 2010 the NHS has been starved of £20 billion. By 2020 the gap between funding and necessary expenditure will be around £50 billion. Last month the new Chief Executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens, made a spurious claim that with an extra £8 billion investment he could redesign the service and make £22 billion savings by 2020.
Winning a decent pay settlement and building a union movement capable of defending heath workers will be vital in the fight to save the NHS for staff and patients.
Bus drivers vote for strikes
London bus drivers have voted for strikes over pay disparities between the city's 18 bus operators.
The ballot returned 85% in favour averaged across the companies, and union Unite says strikes may be called in January.
There is not one collective pay agreement for bus drivers across the capital, meaning pay is negotiated on a company by company basis. This has led to pay disparities of over £3 an hour for new starters.
Unite London regional officer Wayne King said “it is simply not fair to have drivers doing the same work, driving the same routes at the same time of day, but being paid different rates.”
Cleaners' strike suspended
As Solidarity goes to press, cleaners at Waterloo rail station have suspended their 6 January strike after management offered talks.
The cleaners were due to strike again on Monday 12 January in the dispute over victimisation of RMT union members, underpayment of wages, and bullying and harassment of staff.
RMT has written to Network Rail, who outsource cleaning services at Waterloo to Interserve, with examples of racism in the workplace. One included a manager who was heard to say “we shouldn't employ black people.”
Cleaners have been on strike three times in a dispute which has attracted solidarity from across the labour movement.
Mental health workers strike
Mental health workers in Brighton have been on strike since 31 October in a dispute over night shifts.
25 approved mental health professionals have been on strike between 10pm and 8am every night for two months.
Staff had an agreement to work day shifts with a voluntary standby rota to cover nights. However council bosses imposed new working patterns on 1 November that saw staff being forced to work consecutive night and day shifts.
Brighton and Hove Unison says letters have been sent to members threatening “suspension, disciplinary action and possible dismissal”.
In response Unison has agreed to ballot all council employees for strikes if members are victimised.
Hands Off London Transport
Hands Off London Transport is kicking off 2015 with two actions, at Shepherd’s Bush on Thursday 8 January, and at Leytonstone on Monday 12 January.
We’ll gather at Shepherd’s Bush at 5pm, where London Underground is considering filling the ticket office space with a Tesco retail unit, to tell LU “we want a ticket office, not a Tesco!”
Then, on Monday 12 January, we’ll leaflet and petition morning commuters at Leytonstone station, beginning at 7.30am, in conjunction with RMT Central Line East and local MP John Cryer.