Solidarity with Homerton Hospital workers - and fighting for them

Lucy Wood and her son Lochie clap for carers in Stoke Newington

In Stoke Newington Lucy Wood and her son Lochie clapped for carers - Credit: Graeme Edie

For 10 straight Thursdays last spring millions joined in what became a national ritual: the clap for carers. On January 7 there was an attempt to rekindle that spirit amidst an even worse new wave of the Covid pandemic. The well-meaning initiative proved a damp squib.

Since last May we have seen dither, delay and hugely inflated claims from a prime minister peddling empty promises.

Though still small, the audience grew for Covid denial and conspiracy theories even as confidence in public health messages eroded.

By mid-January the UK’s Covid-linked death toll had approached 90,000, the highest across Europe and worse per capita than the United States.

A toxic mix of ideology, incompetence and "cronyism" has undoubtedly contributed. As Sir Michael Marmot has demonstrated, pre-existing social conditions, including a decade of austerity alongside the erosion of union strength, and the longer-term dismantling of the welfare state, have made the pandemic that much worse in Britain.

George Binette explains why NEU members in Tower Hamlets are striking on December 9.

George Binette says that since last May we have seen dither, delay and hugely inflated claims from a prime minister peddling empty promises - Credit: George Binette

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Meanwhile, the NHS and its workforce face pressures far worse than any ‘ordinary’ winter crisis. At the Homerton, the new wave had by December 30 already eclipsed peak figures from last spring with 21 Covid patients in intensive care and nearly 170 hospitalised as opposed to 118 in April. Hospital staff – not just in critical care - are exhausted and stressed in the face of daunting odds.

With this in mind, Hackney North Labour Party joined local union activists and residents last week in writing to the Homerton Unison branch to express our solidarity. Party members want Homerton staff to know that we’ll support them in fighting for a substantial real pay rise, and seek to ensure that Labour nationally stands for ending and reversing NHS privatisation, such as the outsourcing of vital ancillary workers to the likes of ISS, alongside large-scale public investment in the NHS and its workforce.

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  • George Binette is the Hackney North & Stoke Newington CLP trade union liaison officer.

READ MORE: The impact of outsourcing

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