As heroic nurses go out on strike, one hospital trust promises scabs a 50% pay enhancement

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Up and down the country, nurses are striking for fair conditions. The very future of the NHS is at stake. The Royal College of Nurses (RCN), one of several unions which organises healthcare workers, is saying it is the biggest strike in their history. It is also being reported that it is the first mass strike of nurses in a century.

Yet wherever workers organise and strike, there are always those who side with the bosses over their colleagues. The Canary has seen a text message that a striking nurse in the West Country received from her local trust. The text shows that this hospital trust has gone so far as to offer a 50% pay enhancement for ‘bank’ nurses to cover the day shift for the strike. In effect, this is a substantial scab bonus for working on 15 December:

Hospital trust text

Exact budgets available for scab labour are hard to pin down. But, the 50% bonus does beg a question. If they can afford to offer huge payouts like this, why aren’t they paying nurses properly in the first place?

On the pickets

Meanwhile, RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said in a statement:

For many of us, this is our first time striking and our emotions are really mixed. The NHS is in crisis, the nursing profession can’t take any more, our loved ones are already suffering.

It is not unreasonable to demand better. This is not something that can wait. We are committed to our patients and always will be.

Read on...

Speaking from a picket herself, Cullen said people should come and visit the strikers:

Striking nurses tweeted videos of their pickets, saying the experience was already proving uplifting:

In Northampton, nurses braved the coldest strike some of them had ever experienced to fight for better conditions:

Beep for victory

In South Wales, as elsewhere, drivers beeped their support to the strikers as they passed the pickets:

Similar scenes played out across the North of England, to cheers from appreciative nurses:

And in Liverpool, it was the same story as motorists tooted their support:


The nurses aren’t just fighting for pay and conditions. They’re fighting for a functioning healthcare service for us all. One which can look after us from the cradle to the grave, as it was meant to do before Labour and Tory governments hollowed it out with privatisation.

Their fight is our fight. So if you can, get out and show your appreciation to those on the frontline.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Jim Linwood, cropped to 770 x 403, licenced under CC BY 2.0.

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  • Show Comments
    1. All workers should support their colleagues who are on strike. Neither of our two political parties will do so, because they are both interested only in enabling more wealth to be extracted from workers for the richest. From 2008 to 2020, the amount of money created by the Bank of England to support the financial sector, called Quantitative Easing, had added up to £895 billion. So there is no shortage of public money to pay workers.

      In 2020, the boss of Bet365, Denise Coates, paid herself £421 million. The median pay for a nurse is around £50,000. Did Ms Coates work 8,420 times harder than a nurse to make her worth that money? Is gambling 8,420 times more valuable to society than nursing?

    2. It is disgraceful that an NHS Trust would pit one set of nurses against another by trying to tempt bank nurses with a hefty bonus for covering a strike day, but it is lazy logic to say “the 50% bonus does beg a question; if they can afford to offer huge payouts like this, why aren’t they paying nurses properly in the first place?” A huge bonus for one day is nothing, in financial cost, compared with even a very slight increase over a whole year so the two things are simply not on a par with one another. I do hope, however, bank nurses have supported their full-time colleagues by turning down the offer.

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