Your rights - speaking up

05 June 2018

Unite were among the thousands of union members and campaigners who marched to demand a new deal for working people.

The rally on 12 May in London called for a new deal for working people and a better funded NHS. The TUC, who organised the event, estimated there were 25,000 participants, many of whom had travelled from around the UK to take part.

Sarah Carpenter, national officer (health) for Unite the Union, said that there was a strong contingent from the health sector.

‘There was a good-sized group of members from the NHS. They were all keen to be there, as they know only too well how the world of work is changing. Also, how issues in the NHS such as privatisation, outsourcing and the new beast of wholly owned subsidiaries continue to create two-tier workforces, and the potential for worsening hard-won national terms and conditions,’ she said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was the key speaker at the rally. Other speakers spoke about an overworked and under-resourced public sector. They included Jill Taylor from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Amy Johnson who represented teachers, and local government registrar Penny Smith. Each of them talked about the impact of austerity on public services, and how it affects both service users and staff.

The key messages on the march were: the need for a minimum wage of £10 an hour; a ban on exploitative zero hours contracts; proper funding for the NHS and public services; a repeal of the

Trade Union Act; and a crackdown on tax dodgers who starve schools and hospitals of funding. Transport to the march 
and rally was free for Unite members and their families. Participants tweeted their support and pictures of the event with the hashtag #TUCnewdeal. 


Picture credit | Mark Thomas

Intensive care
Neonatal care iStock

I was watching television recently when I channel-surfed my way to an episode of the latest fly-on-the-wall hospital documentary series. I usually stay clear of these types of programmes, partly because they seldom concentrate on fields of care that used to form my daily nursing practice.

The programme showed children of all ages in neonatal and paediatric intensive care units. I observed anxious and distraught parents endure an emotional rollercoaster as they waited, and hoped, their children would recover.

My memory took me back almost three decades when, as a young nurse, I also appeared on TV for a documentary series being filmed in Edinburgh.

As I watched I could hardly believe that I used to nurse acutely ill children and neonates. I found myself wondering could I ever go back? Would I want to? Sometimes, perhaps delusionally, I feel that I might need to, especially when we read so many stories of skill shortages. I thought about the challenges that still need to be addressed.

I concluded that I moved on many years ago. But the pride, passion and enthusiasm still beats within me to work for those that I care for. Now my passion is for the membership of the organisation that employs me as I articulate the opinion of thousands of fellow nurses and act as their advocate. Perhaps it’s now the professional roles of community practitioners that are in need of intensive care, so the skills that I used as a nurse are, in a way, required after all.

Gavin Fergie is a lead professional officer for Unite. 


Picture credit | iStock