Right to protest

Submitted by AWL on 18 May, 2020 - 7:58
NHS workers' protest, Downing Street

After a leaked Treasury paper suggested a two-year public sector pay freeze, a group of London nurses held a socially distanced protest outside Downing Street, wearing their PPE. This is one of a number of protests health workers have organised around the country.

In response NHS England and NHS managers in London have issued a statement saying workers should not join protests as it would “adversely affect public confidence”. It also suggested support for police repression of demonstrations!

Over two hundred health workers have died from Covid-19 in eight weeks – more than the number of British soldiers who died during the Iraq war! Many of the workers’ protests have been about lack of PPE.

A nurse who took part in the Downing Street protest told Solidarity: “It’s absolutely hypocritical of health bosses to tell healthworkers not to protest. Matt Hancock said we should be free to raise our concerns, and previous Conservative governments have passed ‘duty of candour’ laws to compel medical and nursing staff to admit errors.

“Yet when we voice concerns about our poor working conditions or the government’s handling of the crisis we are told to shut up, and our democratic rights are threatened.”

Health workers, and other workers, are right to protest. We must defend those who do against victimisation.

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