Members of the RCM, Unite and Unison in England have staged a walkout over pay.
The strike, which focused on non-emergency services, began at 7am today and finished at 11am. From Tuesday, union members will 'work to rule' for the rest of the week. This means that those participating will take all breaks and will not work unpaid overtime.
The unions balloted their members in September after the recommended one per cent pay rise for 2015/16 was blocked by the government.
Rachael Maskell, Unite's head of health, said that the strike was due to the government showing 'disgraceful contempt for a dedicated workforce who have lost up to 15 per cent in pay since 2010 and face being denied a one per cent pay increase this year.'
The RCM said that women giving birth were unaffected. Instead, antenatal and postnatal services have been the focus of the midwives' action. Jane Cummings, NHS England's chief nursing officer, said that ensuring patient safety was 'a priority.'
The industrial action is the first time the RCM has taken such measures in its 133-year history. Cathy Warwick, the RCM's chief executive, said: 'At a time when MPs are set for a 10 per cent pay hike, we're told that midwives don't deserve even a below-inflation 1 per cent rise. And politicians wonder why the public does not afford them more respect. It feels to a great many people, including midwives, that there is one rule for them and another rule for everybody else.'
The RCN chose not to ballot their members on strike action. It advised members that they should attend work normally, but not volunteer for unpaid overtime to cover for colleagues taking part in the strike.
See what others have said about the strike.
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