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Tens of thousands of NHS workers stage historic pay strike

Thousands of NHS workers including ambulance staff, midwives and nurses staged a four hour walkout on Monday morning.The action was the first strike over pay and conditions by NHS staff in 32 years. Monday’s four hour NHS walkout follows new analysis, published by the Trade Union Congress (TUC), revealing that British workers are currently subject to the most protracted and severe decline in real wages since the Victorian age.

RT reports:- The walkout was sparked by the government’s refusal to consider a modest 1 percent pay rise for National Health Service staff, and was orchestrated to pressure Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to allocate more funds for NHS workers.

Health workers’ unions say their earnings have been reduced by 15 percent as a result of below inflation pay freezes since the current Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition came to power.

The strike, which was scheduled between 7 am and 11 am, was backed by five trade unions. Among those who partook in the historic action was Britain’s largest union, Unite.

Monday’s walkout also included members of GMB, Unison, Ucatt and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). Picket lines were assembled across the nation at 100 specially designated sites.

With many NHS professions joining industrial action for the first time in history, Unite warned the government that its continuous refusal to engage in negotiations with health service staff is alienating large sections of the NHS’s 1.4 million workforce.

Industrial action by midwives, nurses and other NHS staff prompted warnings of potential distress and inconvenience to patients across the country, dependent upon vital NHS services. But union leaders said Hunt was guilty of betraying staff and left them feeling undermined and unappreciated.

The strike marks the beginning of a month-long campaign whereby Unite members will adhere specifically to their contracted working hours – a so-called “work to rule” – and ambulance staff will refuse to work overtime.

GMB’s strike action on Monday will also be followed by a ban on overtime work in the ambulance service from Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 October, while other NHS employees will only work to their contracted hours throughout the same period.

The strike’s impact is thought to have varied across the country. Prior to the walkout, hospital trusts suggested the action would culminate in planned but non-critical operations being delayed. The trusts worked to dampen patients’ fears and appease potential disruption, however, by scheduling such procedures later on Monday or within a few days of delays.