2018 has opened with a crisis across our entire health service. Working people are both worried and angry – worried about the service they will receive if they become ill and angry about the unending programme of austerity which has chipped away at our public services.
Previously, the Northern Ireland Executive implemented austerity but the Executive collapsed a year ago and there is no sign of the necessary level of agreement to bring it back. Instead, the Secretary of State has overseen the cuts, based on the budget plan left on the table by the last Executive.
The DUP are particularly complicit in the current programme of cuts. They claim that their deal with the Tories has brought an extra £1 billion and protected Northern Ireland from the worst of the cuts but this simply not true. They, in fact, vote through every aspect of the Conservative Party programme. Sinn Féin claim that they stand firm against Tory austerity, but previously handed power to implement benefit cuts back to Westminster, in order to avoid any flak for these savage cuts.
Whilst the main parties squabble, NIPSA members are left to cope with falling real wages and attacks on health, education and welfare. We can only rely on our own strength to push back the austerity agenda. We need a real pay-rise in 2018. We must stand together to defend our public services.
NIPSA has played an outstanding role, with others, in standing against the cuts over the last decade. In particular we were central to the organisation of the two one-day public sector strikes across the North in 2013 and 2015. We need to renew our efforts in 2018, campaigning and demonstrating against the cuts. We need to work with the other unions to fight for a pay-rise which wins back what we have lost in a decade of wage awards which were less than the inflation rate. It is only the trade unions, and genuine anti-sectarian left and socialist activists, who can defend working people in the difficult period ahead.
It is vitally important that NIPSA has a firm, fighting leadership in the year ahead. The Broad Left candidates in the General Council election are pledged to lead a robust campaign and to fight energetically for all our members. Vote Broad Left and ensure you have a leadership that delivers for you.
By Ann Orr, NIPSA member
Ballots will be issued from 30th January and the vote closes on 20th February.
Please vote for: BOOTH, Brian – BROOKS, William – CLARKE, Yvonne – COBAIN, Paul – COLLINS, Lucia – CONLON, Sean Paul – CREANEY, Tina – DOBBIN, Michael – GATES, Carmel – KILLEN, Tanya – LAWLOR, Patrick – MAGUIRE, Damien – MALONE, Gerry – McCANN, Fergal – McCONVILLE, Seana – McSHERRY, Helena – MORGAN, Maria – MULHOLLAND, Breandan – MULHOLLAND, Patrick – MURDOCK, Janette – O’SANDAIR, Ruaidhri – SCOTT, Jane – TOAL, John – WALSH, Janice