“It’s time for us to take our placards and make a stand for us and for generations of nurses to come,” says UNISON head of nursing Gail Adams as health workers in England prepare for industrial action in less than two weeks.
UNISON nurses will join colleages across the English NHS, and in other unions, staging a 12-hour strike from 9am to 9pm on Thursday 29 January.
They will then work to rule – working their contracted hours, takein their breaks and not doing unpaid overtime – between Friday 30 January and Tuesday 24 February.
This will be followed a 24-hour strike on Wednesday 25 February.
UNISON will agree emergency cover with employers, making sure nurses and other health workers can take action safely and responsibly.
Ms Adams has herself been an NHS patient over the last few months, including a month in hospital.
“I saw first-hand the struggle which nurses experienced trying to give the highest standards of care with insufficient numbers to do so,” she says.
“I witnessed staff doing additional shifts and regularly working through their breaks during 12 hour shifts, just to make sure patients received their care.
“Although what I saw overwhelmingly inspired me, it also made me angry in equal measure.
“We are less than five months away from an election. Not satisfied with not paying everyone 1%, the government has now made it clear that, if re-elected, it is coming for your unsocial hours pay,” she said in a message to nurses.
“It is more important than ever that nurses join the strike action. While MPs receive a massive pay rise, some are quite happy to deny you a small rise.
“This government has made a political decision to do this, it seems able to find billions for other things at the drop of a hat, but not for you – while you care for the most vulnerable.
“It’s time for us to take our placards and make a stand for us and for generations of nurses to come.
“When nurses unite with one voice, standing shoulder to shoulder with each other they win and we will win this.
“Finally on a personal note, thank you so much for all of your hard work and the care you give to others.”