2022-11-18 14:37

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Labour's Wess Streeting Claim No NHS Strikes During Labour Gov Incorrect

As this website has often said, the facts around the privatisation of the NHS shows that Labour Governments have not a;ways supported the NHS as they claim, and indeed it was the Labour Governments under Tony Blair that laid down the seeds of privatisation that the Tory Health & Social Care Act 2012 and the Health & Care Act 2022 has put the final nails in the coffin of the NHS.

Image: Wess Streeting MPFollowing the decision by NHS nurses working at many NHS trusts to vote in favour of strike action as part of a dispute over pay and conditions, Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting tweeted that there had been “no strikes in the NHS during 13 years when Labour was last in government”.

According to investigation by Full Fact, an organisation known for its fact checking service;  has been able to find two examples of formal local strike action by staff working in NHS hospitals during this period (between 1997 and 2010), as well as one unofficial strike involving hundreds of staff. While some of the staff involved were employed by an agency to work in an NHS hospital, others appear to have been directly employed by the NHS.

They list the following strike action within the NHS during Labour Governments:

On 31 October 2005the BBC reported that staff working at four NHS hospitals in Newcastle held a one-day strike over the new Agenda for Change contracts, which were introduced in 2004, and which the trade union Unison said were allowing existing staff to be employed on lower wages than new recruits.

This strike reportedly involved around 600 catering staff, cleaners and porters, and while we’ve not been able to find full details of the dispute, reports from the time now available on local paper The Chronicle’s website and on the Workers Revolutionary Party’s website suggest those striking were directly employed by the NHS.

In August 2002the BBC reported that staff working at Glasgow Royal Infirmary held a 48-hour strike over pay and working conditions. This dispute reportedly involved around 300 domestic and cleaning staff who were employed by the agency Sodexho (now Sodexo), and worked in the NHS hospital. Trade publication The Caterer reported that the dispute was resolved later that month following a deal with Sodexho.

We also found a report in The Times of an “unofficial strike” (that is, a strike which is not organised or officially endorsed by a union) involving around 500 clerical and administrative staff at at least five Glasgow hospitals in November 2002. The dispute reportedly resulted in severe disruption to “admissions, theatre schedules, clinic IT and the delivery of case notes”.

Full Fact has put these examples to Mr Streeting, and asked whether he agrees that they appear to contradict his claim that there were “no strikes in the NHS” when Labour was last in power.

We have contacted leading trade unions Unison, GMB and Unite to ask whether they hold any records of strike action involving NHS staff, or other staff working in NHS hospitals, between 1997 and 2010.

Unite told us it doesn’t hold records going that far back. We’ll update this fact check with any further responses we receive.

We could not find any examples of nationwide disputes involving NHS staff or staff working in NHS hospitals when Labour was last in power, nor any examples of strike action involving clinical staff, as the proposed nurses strike would be. Mr Streeting’s tweet was shared on Twitter by at least six other Labour MPs, and the Labour Whips’ Office.

Source: Full Fact

Pic: Bak to News icon link

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