Workers in action: doctors, bus drivers, traffic wardens

16 September 2023

NHS: doctors coordinate

The British Medical Association which represents both junior and senior doctors has announced coordinated strike action on 20 September, and 2, 3 and 4 October for the first time in history. Consultants will also strike separately on 19 September and 1 October, while junior doctors will do likewise on 21 and 22 September.

The BMA described the government’s recent offer to consultants of 6% as ‘insulting’, given that doctors have experienced a 35% reduction in real-terms pay over the last 14 years. Meanwhile, junior doctors smashed the ballot threshold for renewed strike action, with 98.4% voting infavour on a 71% turnout. Conveniently, the joint strike action coincides with the Tory party conference in Manchester on 1–4 October.

Despite the courageous efforts of the NHS Workers Say No and other heahealthcare activists, the RCN narrowly missed the undemocratic threshold set for legal strike action, despite winning 84% of the vote. Sadly they will not be on strike—which underlines the need for one union for all healthcare workers.

First Group Manchester: show us the money

After 22 strike days across July and August, the landscape has shifted significantly for the bus drivers at First Manchester’s Oldham depot. Under the threat of five consecutive days of strike action in September, the First Group has made a new offer.

If accepted, drivers will see hourly pay increase to £15 (up from the current miserly £13.50), backdated to April. The figure still comes in below the demand of £16 per hour, but nonetheless Unite regional officer Colin Hayden is recommending acceptance.

Worse, Hayden immediately suspended the strikes ‘as an act of good faith’ while members are balloted on the new deal. Yet earlier this year Unite drivers at First West Yorkshire had to go on strike again to see a ‘negotiated’ deal finally arrive in their pay packets. We say, let’s see the money before showing any ‘good faith’.

Bus drivers need to coordinate their claims and their strikes across the country—especially when it’s the same company screwing over different sets of workers.

Camden traffic wardens’ strike: ‘whatever it takes’

Traffic wardens in Camden have been on indefinite strike for better pay since 24 July. At the end of their fifth week on strike, Camden Unison organised a solidarity march with their strikers. The rally heard speeches of support from Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Homerton Hospital, UCLH and Barnet Unison branches.

Their employer NSL has  made handsome profits from a parking contract with the Labour controlled council over many years: £5.9 million in 2021, rising to £9.2 million in 2022. The strikers currently earn £12 an hour and are demanding £15.90. NSL’s latest offer of £15 an hour over three years was roundly rejected at a recent mass meeting.

Camden traffic wardens are primarily migrant workers, always a target for special exploitation. One striker told Workers Power, ‘We have had enough of low pay, we cannot make ends meet.’ Another striker said, ‘We have been on strike for 5 weeks now, we will do whatever it takes to get a decent pay rise and it must be a one year deal’. There is no mistaking their militancy and determination to win!

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