Speaking to UNISON’s annual health conference in Liverpool today (Monday), general secretary Dave Prentis said:
“With the election just over six weeks away, the NHS needs those who have the will, the spirit and the dedication to fight for it, and to save it.
“When the country goes to the polls, everything that matters to NHS staff is on the line – their jobs, their wages, and the UK’s public services.
“With Brexit on the horizon, the government is putting employment rights, jobs and public services on the line. It wants a renewed mandate to make everyone worse off and easier to fire.
“That must not be allowed to happen. We will fight to make sure this government is defeated on 8 June.
“Huge damage has been done by seven years of Conservative governments. As its candidates knock on doors and appear on TV screens asking for votes, remember you can’t trust a word they say.
“Theresa May said – over and over again – there would be no snap general election. Yet she went back on her word last week.
“Before the last election – just two years ago – Jeremy Hunt and George Osborne both said they’d properly fund our NHS. Instead, as the need becomes greater, funding is becoming scarcer, and health workers are being asked to do more with less.
“You cannot trust the Conservatives with the National Health Service – especially when it comes to pay. Yet again NHS employees been offered a so-called wage rise of 1%.
“Yet again public service champions have been let down – when inflation is on the rise, food costs more at the supermarket, and prices are going up at the petrol pumps.
“One per cent isn’t a pay rise. It’s a pay cut, and an insult too. Especially when NHS workers go above and beyond every day, caring for patients and keeping the health service running.
“Health employees shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re being taken for granted. They are giving 100%, but getting just 1% in return.
“The Prime Minister must guarantee that EU citizens living in our country, making their lives here, working in our public services and our NHS have the right to stay. It’s immoral to be using them as bargaining chips.
“If the Conservatives are re-elected in June, public services face further attack, as do hard-won rights at work. Rights like maternity pay, paternity leave, paid holiday, flexible working, rights for agency and part-time workers.
“Last year the British people were promised an extra £350 million a week for the NHS. It was written on the side of that big red bus. I never believed that lie, but many people did.
“It was a promise made to the British people. That money that could now be paying for services being cut, services the NHS can’t afford to provide, and the decent pay rises NHS staff all deserve.”