Health unions picket outside King’s Lynn hospital over pay deal

Health unions strike outside the main entrance to Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Monday. ANL-141013-104738009
Health unions strike outside the main entrance to Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Monday. ANL-141013-104738009
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Picket lines were seen outside Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital yesterday as staff supported a national strike over pay .

Seventy people, including many midwives, manned four picket lines around the Gayton Road site for four hours in torrential rain while many workers did not clock on until 11am.

Thousands of NHS workers staged the first strike in decades to fight for fairer pay.

Five unions -including the Royal College of Midwives which went on strike for the first time - are calling for a one per cent pay rise for all staff but the Government says this is too expensive.

The hospital says core services were not affected by the strike action.

Darren Barber, chairman of the hospital’s joint staff-side committee and secretary of its Unison branch, estimates between 70 and 100 people supported the strike.

He said: “It is an absolute credit to the people who have turned up in this weather. The support we have had from the public is unbelievable.

“We have people working in the NHS who are going to food banks while others are having to work two jobs.

“In 1982 nurses went on strike for a 12.5 per cent pay rise. We are having to do this for a one per cent rise.

“The people who work at this hospital are heroes in my eyes and they are not paid enough.”

Kevin Bowman, RCM steward and a midwife for 20 years, said staff are working hundreds of extra hours without pay to ensure services run.

He said: “It is the first time we have been on strike in our 130 years history and we do it with a very heavy heart. We have ensured that all essential services are running for women in the area.

“We agreed to a pay freeze for the last five years and the promised one per cent has been taken away. This represents a 25 per cent pay cut in the last five years.”

MPs and plans to raise their salaries from £67,000 to £74,000 came under fire from the strikers.

Mick Bovington, who works in the rehab department, said: “One per cent is not a lot of money but MPs give themselves a 10 per cent pay rise.”

Susie Marchetti, who also works in rehab, said: “I think people are given a false impression of everything which goes on with the NHS.

“The Government has been talking about the increment system. After seven years I could be earning the same as my colleague. It should be part of the pay package for taking on the job.

“We are asking for a one per cent pay rise. The politicians are looking after themselves. They have 10 per cent.”

Unions taking part were Unite, Unison, the British Association for Occupational Therapists and Managers in Partnership.

A hospital spokesman said: “Although industrial action went ahead as planned, core services were unaffected.”