HOSPITAL workers in Sunderland took to the picket lines during today’s strike.
Unison members who work at Sunderland Royal Hospital picketed three entrances to the site in a day of protest.
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) who work at the hospital carried out a show of solidarity with other unions by protesting in their breaks and in some cases before and after shifts.
Mum-of-two Ann Clay, from High Barnes, is a branch secretary for Unison and has worked on the switchboard at the hospital for 30 years.
She said: Although the picket line did not start until 8am, we’ve been here since about 7am as a token gesture for the early risers.
“Our argument is not with our employer, it is with the Government.
“We have physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nursing staff on the picket line today .”
Ann said they had three buses going to the march taking place in Gateshead.
She added: “I’m not the most militant of people but I think what the Government is doing is so wrong that we have to stand up. If we roll over and die on pensions, we are an open target.”
Rachael Dyson, 47, from Hendon, is a senior biomedical scientist in the pathology department.
Rachael said: “It just seems that the Government are trying to punish public sector workers for mistakes they have not made. What does not seem to be reported in the press is that NHS pensions make £2million profit a year so they are sustainable.
“The support from the public has been pretty good.
“We are running an emergency service as we would on a bank holiday and so patients who need it will be looked after.”
Glenn Turp, RCN regional director for the North East, said: “We are joining the other unions to show support for what we are fighting for.
“What our members are really annoyed about is that they are already contributing to helping the economy as they are in the middle of a two-year pay freeze.
“Our members have clearly contributed and what the Government is asking, that they pay more, work longer and get a smaller pension, is totally unfair.
“A nurse could be paying around £1,000 more a year to their pension.
“I don’t know many nurses that could afford to do that.
“We expect to see a much better offer on the table from the Government now.
“Our members are not willing to accept what is being offered at the moment.”
Doctors at Sunderland Royal Hospital worked as normal, with emergency services provided by A&E staff.
NHS services at Bunny Hill and Grindon Lane Primary Care Centres ran as normal.
However, x-ray services were restricted to Grindon Lane only.