Striking hospital staff in Yorkshire reacted with fury yesterday as bosses issued sacking notices to enforce huge pay cuts.
Bosses at Mid-Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust, which runs Dewsbury and District Hospital, Pontefract Royal Infirmary and Wakefield Pinderfields Hospital, issued dismissal notices to 250 workers and said staff will be re-employed only if they sign new contracts accepting the lower wages.
The trust faces £24 million in government cuts and is demanding pay cuts of up to 20 per cent - more than £2,000 a year in some cases.
But the determined staff, most of them low-paid women workers and members of public-service union Unison, said they would do what it takes to resist the attack on their wages.
Over 500 workers were out on the pickets at the three West Yorkshire hospitals.
Dave Byrom, a medical records clerk at Dewsbury, said the mood on the picket lines was both buoyant and angry.
He said: "Their behaviour is a continuation of the bullying tactics management has used throughout. We expected it, but it is out and out bullying. It is desperation on their part as well.
"It's made people more determined to stick it out. They hoped it would make people cave in. It's had the opposite effect to the one they were hoping for."
Clare Anderson, who has also worked in medical records at the hospital for 12 years, said: "What they are doing is not on. They are trying to victimise low-paid women and you have got to stand up to them and show them that they can't do it. It's ridiculous sacking us. They don't live on the same planet."
This week's strike is the third in a series. Staff have already successfully resisted 70 compulsory redundancies.
But Unison member Jim Bell said an even bigger problem was the £40m a year interest the trust pays on loans taken out under the notorious private finance initiative introduced by the Tories and continued under Labour from 1997 onwards.
And he said the trust was also handing out millions to private consultants.
"Ernst and Young received £3m in fees last year - £425,000 in December alone," said Mr Bell.
He said management had gone for the "nuclear option" by issuing sacking notices to the clerical staff.
"The bosses are taking a big risk. They are endangering hospital services. It's a big risk to patient safety because if our people don't accept it they can't run the hospitals. It's just madness."
The ranks of the pickets grew as the day went on today, with hundreds of passing motorists honking support.
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