NHS strikes: Manchester backs nurses in pay walkout

Around 400,000 NHS workers took part in the first strike over pay for more than 30 years yesterday.

Nurses, midwives and ambulance staff staged the walkout over the Government’s decision not to go ahead with the planned 1% pay-rise.

The NHS didn’t grind to a halt due to the nationwide four-hour stoppage, but the service undoubtedly strained.

And now talk has begun regarding an all-day strike next month if the powers that be refuse to budge, as negotiations intensify between the unions and the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

If this happens emergency measures will need to be put in place to ensure the cogs of the NHS continue to turn.

But while some may support the cause of those striking, others may feel that too the risk is too high.

With this in mind, MM took to the streets of Manchester to as the following question:

Were the NHS staff right to strike?








The majority of people who took part in MM’s poll supported the strike, as 79% supported their cause.

Helen Martin, a 24-year-old accountant from the city centre, said: “I have real sympathy for those who decided to strike.

“I’d do the same if I was in their position because they do work hard. Why should they have to put up with stuff that other people don’t.”

Chris Nolan, 49, a taxi driver from Altrincham, said: “They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do. I rely on the NHS so I’m all behind it.

“Everyone’s entitled to strike and if that’s what they feel like they need to do to get their message across then good for them.”

Andrew Lord, a 26-year-old Stockport stockbroker, said: “I didn’t think it was a problem at all. It was just a couple of hours and they agreed to go back if there was an emergency and they’re completely justifiable.

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“Everyone’s got the right to strike if they’re not happy with their working conditions.

“I think it’s made people aware of their plight but I don’t expect it to make a huge difference.”

MM encountered very few people who wouldn’t have done the same had they been in the healthcare workers’ position.

But Ian Topping, a 42-year-old HR manager, said: “There are a lot of problems with wages keeping track with inflation across the board.

“I don’t think that’s unique to the NHS, so I don’t think a withdrawal of 1% is significant in the overall economy.

“We do need to make sure that we can perform accordingly to our means.”

But there were those who said that maybe striking wasn’t the only way to go about sending a message.

Farwa Shah, 19, a student who lives in Accrington, said: “Since they work in emergency services it’s probably not the best way to protest but I suppose they do have a right to.

“My mum goes to hospital. She’s got kidney failure and the nurses there complain a lot.

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“I guess it’s not fair to them and they do deserve better pay but it’s not the best way to do it.

“If it’s an emergency service like fire, police and healthcare, I think they can find better ways to do it.”

Craig Cheetham, 24, an insurance broker from the city centre, said: “They do a very good job and they have to work long hours, so they’re absolutely justified.

“I don’t believe that they should just stop working altogether so striking is maybe not the way to go about it.

“There should be something enforced to let their opinions be heard. It’s all to do with the politics side of things.”

Stewart Hilton, a 42-year-old marketing consultant from Bury, said: “The thing that stuck in my throat was that I’m hearing this alongside the news that MPs are thinking about giving themselves a pay-rise.

“That I find difficult to believe. But I do understand the view that if they did award the 1% pay-rise then it may have resulted in the cutting out of staff.”

Joey Thomas, a 20-year-old student from Rusholme, said: “They do work hard for what they do.

“It’s a good service and they should get what they deserve. I can really sympathise with that.”

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Olivia Kane, 24, also a Manchester-based student, said: “If it was staffed properly in the first place then they wouldn’t need the overtimes.

“If they get that little bit of extra pay then it would only be a good thing.

“I think it’s reasonable because they’re not working beyond the hours that they’re being paid for.

Wendy Wild, 49, a retail manager from Oldham, said: “If you’ve been working in the public sector for the last 10 years then you’ve taken pay cut after pay cut in real terms.

“Even the 1% pay rise wouldn’t have been covering inflation so I agree with what they’ve done.”

Main image courtesy of Julia John, with thanks.

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