Hartlepool health workers strike over pay

HEALTH workers in Hartlepool took to the picket lines to stage strike action in a pay protest.

Nurses, midwives, therapists and other NHS employees gathered outside of the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road, to lobby for a one per cent rise in their wages.

SOLIDARITY: MP Iain Wright (front row, right) joins striking NHS workers outside the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

SOLIDARITY: MP Iain Wright (front row, right) joins striking NHS workers outside the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Today’s four-hour strike, which ran from 7am until 11am, was part of industrial action taken by NHS workers in various trade unions across the country.

Mick Swinbourne, the branch secretary for Unison and who also works as an operating department practitioner, said: “We want the Government to give us this nationally negotiated pay award that was awarded by an independent review body.

“The Government is disregarding that.

“In Wales and Scotland the health workers there have had their one per cent pay rise agreed.

“There’s only England now that haven’t done it.

“We are fighting for a one per cent pay rise after a four-year pay freeze.

“It’s not like we are saying we want seven, or eight, or nine per cent.”

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright also turned up at the picket line to show his support.

He told the Mail: “It’s really important that everybody in the town and across the country shows their support for what the NHS workers are doing today.

“One per cent is not a huge amount and when you think about how we all rely on the NHS, then one per cent is not too much to ask for.

“I wanted to come here to show my support and I think it’s only right and proper that the Government accepts the findings of this independent pay body.”

A Department of Health spokesman said it could not afford the rise without risking frontline jobs.

Unions said the industrial action would not have affected urgent care, although pre-booked outpatient appointments and non-emergency surgery and operations may have been delayed.