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Unison joins other unions in health workers' industrial action and stoppage in dispute over pay

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NHS workers throughout Kent have today been staging a four-hour stoppage in a row over pay.

The industrial action, between 7am and 11am, includes nurses, paramedics, therapists, cooks, cleaners and healthcare workers.

This will be followed by four days of action up until Friday, when workers will take their breaks and not work through.

Pickets outside Medway Maritime Hospital
Pickets outside Medway Maritime Hospital

Tony Jones, UNISON South East Head of Health, said: "NHS members don’t take action often or lightly. For many of our members this will be the first time they walk out as the last action over pay was 32 years ago.

"Staff are on average 10% worse off than when the coalition came to power and this means their families are suffering and morale is hitting rock bottom.

"A well-motivated workforce saves lives so we need to cherish and support our NHS staff who work day in, day out caring for others.”

In Canterbury, health workers and their supporters braved appalling weather to protest over pay.

Striking staff at Kent and Canterbury Hospital
Striking staff at Kent and Canterbury Hospital

The industrial action saw a picket line outside the Kent and Canterbury Hospital entrance at the junction of the Ethelbert and South Canterbury roads.

Frank Macklin, the regional organiser for the GMB union, said: "We are here in Canterbury demonstrating about the government's appalling imposition of pay.

"People have been coming and going today and the weather hasn't helped, but we have made our point."

Staff and patients entering the hospital in the driving rain honked in support of the striking staff, who were joined by patients and NHS supporters.

Among them was Rita O'Brien of East Kent Keep the NHS Public. She said: "The privatisation agenda is going to make the lives of the people who work for the NHS worse.

"Whenever you get privatisation, you get cuts to jobs and to salaries."

A spokesman for the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust said: "We have 29 staff with unplanned absence this morning, this represents 1% of those who should have been at work at this time.

"We do not believe this has had a significant impact on our services."

There were also pickets at Medway Maritime Hospital, where midwives were among the striking staff.

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