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Len McCluskey: value NHS workers with more than warm words

Commenting on today’s announcement that nurses are to be consulted on taking strike action over pay, after being awarded a pay increase of just one per cent, Len McCluskey said:

“When community health visitors say they know nurses who are being forced to use food banks to feed their families, we know just how deep the scandal of the public sector pay freeze is.

“Nurses and other NHS staff ran out of St Thomas’s hospital during the recent terror attack on Westminster Bridge in order to treat the injured and dying. They gave no thought to their own safety. Their heroism and professionalism has rightly been acknowledged.

“Yet many NHS and other public sector workers are now so poor that they are forced to rely on charity. There is a crisis spreading in our public services due the government’s brutal austerity policies and these are the real-life human consequences.

“Since 2010 NHS staff have seen their wages fall by 17 per cent and the scale of the cuts is breath-taking. I have seen the impact for frontline NHS staff right across the country, including on the picket line at Pindersfield hospital in Wakefield, when marching in Leicester to save the local children’s heart unit, and standing with health visitors in Hull, fighting a 25 per cent cut to their numbers.

“We need to value NHS workers with more than warm words. They must be paid what they deserve.”

Mr McCluskey, who is standing for re-election as general secretary of Unite, Britain’s and Ireland’s biggest union, warned yesterday, in response to the latest jobless and earnings figures, that work in this country simply does not pay.

“Only the people of Greece have suffered a bigger fall in living standards during these miserable austerity years.

“Yet, while working people suffer increasing hardship, the economy goes on working for the few. The government must act to reverse this appalling and yawning inequality.”