'We need pay justice for public sector workers'

Unite delegate and acute hospital rep Lesley Mansell calls for greater support for NHS and other public services

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Unite delegate and acute hospital rep Lesley Mansell demanded urgent support for NHS workers and public services as she spoke in favour of a motion on the health service at the last day of Labour Party conference on Wednesday (September 28).

She began by thanking all the support given by conference to the NHS, saying how it “matters so much for staff”.

Lesley spoke of health service workers being “worn out, demoralised, but not defeated” as the Tory government sets impossible targets, adding that the “NHS needs a lot of fixing”.

She noted how “we must stop our cash being sucked into tax havens otherwise we can’t fund the NHS and the public sector properly”, and added that insourcing must be at the forefront in tackling NHS privatisation.

“We are fighting privatisation all the time,” Lesley said, explaining how Unite recently defeated another privatisation of the estates team at her Trust.

“Beware because private insurance companies will want to feel your purse before they feel your pulse – making profit, not delivering services or supporting good jobs,” she added, to widespread applause.

She lauded Labour’s commitment to recruit thousands of new nurses, but said, “We are losing our experienced staff in droves. And there’s no bursaries for training.”

Lesley highlighted the “dire situation” in maternity last week, with “patients crying, nurses crying” and community midwives not being able to afford petrol costs.

“You can delay a hip operation but you can’t delay a baby being born,” she pointed out.

In a rallying cry to defend the NHS, Lesley said, “We all have a duty to act – or our public services may never recover.”

She spoke of how Unite members in public services have taken unprecedented strike action in Northern Ireland and Scotland – and won, adding that “We may not be far behind in England and Wales”.

Urging delegates to support the motion, Lesley concluded, “We need pay justice for our public sector workers.”

By Hajera Blagg

Pic by Mark Thomas