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PT and the Greater Good

Strike Update

Published November 8, 2011 2:25 PM by Dean Metz

I received a ballot this week from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) about whether I was in favor or against an industrial action (strike) on November 30. The strike will be a one-day affair, not walking out indefinitely until an agreement is reached. I wonder about the efficacy of such a short statement. All it takes is one good snowstorm to bring all work in the UK to a stop for a day or two anyway. This allays many of my concerns about patient safety and impact on care.

Why is the CSP considering this action? Primarily due to proposed changes in the pension plans for NHS employees. The changes would include decreasing the amount paid out (currently about 7,000 GBP/year for men and 5,000 GBP/year for women... no, I don't know why that is so different), increasing contributions by 3.2 percent on average (none of which will go into the actual pension plans but rather to the general Treasury) and probable future contribution increases. As it stands, the NHS has frozen salaries for two years and the general terms and conditions of employment are being reviewed. It is a tenuous time to be working in the NHS.

I'm not going to disclose how I voted in a public forum such as this. I have no idea about the potential for any repercussions. When you look at what someone receives as a pension, you can understand the outrage at lowering it. Several thousand pounds are not much to live on. It will be interesting to see how the majority has voted. Even more interesting to see if this will make a difference.

4 comments

Dean,

Thanks for responding.

Crossing my fingers and toes for the best outcome for all.

Janey Goude November 10, 2011 8:05 PM

Janey, in answer to your questions,

1. Yes, it is designed to be a statement. It won't be just physios striking that day. A number of public service professions will be involved. I'm not getting the impression that it is supposed to be a threat of things to come.

2. The choice of whether or not to work that day is up to the individual. However one wonders about the impact of crossing a picket line and the effects that will have on professional relationships down the road. The scene from the film "Billy Elliot" (shot in the town I work in) where the scabs take a bus past the striking miners keeps playing in my head.

The government has presented a compromise option. Let's see how that plays out.

Dean Metz November 10, 2011 12:08 PM

Glad I'm not you right now.  Sorry you are having to go through this, but appreciate you letting us watch from the sidelines.  A few curiosity questions.

Am I misunderstanding that striking for one day won't be any different from a snow day, which is a regular winter occurrence there?  Is it to act as a sort of statement of what physios are willing to do, a sort of threat of what could come if the proposed changes go through?  

Is it requisite that all physios act according to the majority vote?  If the majority voted for the strike, would a physio who voted against it be required to strike?

Hope the strike, or lack thereof, results in the desired outcome for UK physios.

Janey Goude November 8, 2011 10:17 PM

You are between a rock and a hard place.  I went to Scotland a few weeks ago. My strongest memory is how expensive everything was.  The cost of things there was about twice as much as what I pay here.  I can almost understand the motivation behind a strike.  What is one day versus a life time?

I would like to think I would have voted to continue working.  But that is the patient advocate inside of me speaking.  I don't think a one day work stoppage will make any difference.  It wouldn't here.  The powers that be know after that day things will return to normal.  I think you will need to strike for longer than that to make a difference.  The problem is the perception of benefit of  physiotherapy isn't that high.  It won't increase until there is evidence of what happens when patients don't receive therapy.

I don't evny you and your fellow physios.  In the end you must go with what your heart tells you is best.  I wish you the best of luck.

Toni Patt November 8, 2011 5:18 PM

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    Dean Metz
    Occupation: Staff Development Specialist
    Setting: New York, NY – Newcastle Upon Tyne, Great Britain
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