Radiographers and midwives join strikes

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The NHS unions have announced the next national strike date, Monday 24 November, for health workers across England. Unions taking part in the action are Unison, Unite, GMB, Royal College of Midwives (RCM), Society of Radiographers (SOR), UCATT, POA, British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT), British Dietetic Association (BDA), and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association.

This follows an announcement that health workers in Wales will strike on 10 November.

The first four-hour national strike on 13 October in the pay campaign was a fantastic success, with many picket lines of 50-plus that surpassed people’s expectations. There was incredible energy on RCM midwives’ picket lines — women on strike often for the first time, and with deep anger at the Tories’ slashing of maternity units. A week later the SOR radiographers’ strike helped carry on the momentum.

Many socialists raised support for the strike in their workplaces, with impressive collections delivered to hospitals and wider solidarity through the “Breakfasts for the NHS” around the picket lines that ran from 7 till 11am.

Further such solidarity can have a huge impact in boosting the confidence of health workers. They are fighting in a context of bitter, politicised anger inside NHS workplaces at the attacks on the health service but at the same time relatively weak union density and organisation. The Unite the Resistance: Organising to Win conference on 15 November is intended as a place for trade union militants to develop networks out of the many strikes in the public sector and beyond. This can help strengthen union organisation and confidence. But it can also provide a space to have out the debates about the strategy for the national action and how to win.