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Physios turn out in force

1 December 2011 - 5:02pm

Thousands of CSP members took to streets and picket lines while the public showed support with mince pies and beeping horns. Gary Henson reports

The CSP has had tremendous feedback from across the country, from picket lines, rallies and marches where members turned out in their thousands.

‘CSP staff who attended pickets and events throughout the day were bowled over by the sheer energy and enthusiasm of our stewards and members we saw and met,’ said Lesley Mercer, director of Employment Relations and Union Services.

You’ll find extensive coverage of the day including plenty of photos in the forthcoming issue of Frontline and immediately below. If you can't see the slideshow in the box below, you can try watching it on the CSP's 30 November Flickr page.

There was a massive turnout in Manchester with over 500 members at a city centre rally where CSP deputy chief executive Sue Browning estimated she spoke individually to 100 members.

Ms Mercer, who spoke at a rally outside London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, said ‘The mood was very upbeat with loads of very vocal CSP members.’

Outside St Thomas’, CSP members led limbering-up exercises before setting off for a rally and steward Ruth Kent was interviewed by Canadian and Spanish TV. There was a lot of support from the public, with horns beeping as cars, buses and taxis crossed Westminster Bridge towards the House of Commons.

In east London, the day started for some at 6am on picket lines, with a rally at Homerton hospital followed by the rally in central London. Physio assistant, Julie Rafferty, said: ‘We had a fantastic turnout by physios and assistants and I feel proud to be a CSP steward.’

A bunch of miniature CSP strikers were the icing on the cake in south London – the colourful figures topped a homemade cake brought by physio David Herdman to nourish colleagues on a Lewisham picket line.

Captain Phiz and CSP members from across the Essex region got together outside Basildon Hospital before marching into the town centre to join a rally with other unions. Steward Lee Matthews said: ’We had loads of public support, with lots of cars tooting their horns and we gave CSP leaflets to many passers by.’

In Chichester, Jo Gibbs, steward at Western Sussex Hospitals, reported: ‘Up to 18 physio staff joined picket lines enduring the rain and receiving 196 beeps of support from drivers between 7.30 and 10am.’

In Cambridgeshire, picketing started at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, followed by a march of health unions including 50 CSP members to Cambridge city centre. There were other events at Papworth and Peterborough.

In West Cumbria, Juliet Wilson reported: ‘It absolutely lashed it down on the harbourside at Whitehaven and we had to dry out our placards.’

Four major rallies in Yorkshire - Bradford, Sheffield, Hull and Leeds - drew 25,000 people with rallies in eight smaller cities and towns.

Despite a bitterly cold start in the dark at 7am, over 30 physiotherapy staff at Bradford Royal Infirmary reported fantastic public support with people beeping their horns, bringing doughnuts, mince pies and cups of tea.

Andrew Merriman, CSP regional steward in Yorkshire on a march in Huddersfield town centre, said: ‘We hope that our goal of getting ministers to enter genuine and meaningful negotiations will be achieved.’

More than 50 physios attended the rally in Leeds city centre, joining other public sector workers and colleagues from the NHS taking strike action including radiographers, podiatrists and chiropodists as well as Unison, Unite and GMB members.

Members from Leeds Teaching Hospitals carried placards they made themselves from resources provided via the CSP website.

The picket line at Barnsley Hospital featured on the local TV news. Trust management sent out refreshments.

CSP members at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust spoke with their chief executive Phil Morley in between making their own banners and attending the picket and rally. Steward Tom McGregor said: ‘We got on Radio Humberside, Viking FM and BBC Look North. It was a truly exciting day and we feel we got our message across.’

In Newcastle, members with CSP banners and placards made the front page of the Newcastle Journal and the Evening Chronicle. They were also interviewed on ITV Daybreak and Real Radio.

‘We had a brilliant day and were very well supported on both picket line and the march itself,’ said north east regional steward Jill Barker. ‘Our strike was really solid, so much so that we had to thank our colleagues on the radio who had agreed to volunteer to do the emergency cover.

In Northern Ireland, where physiotherapy staff were not on strike, CSP senior negotiating officer Claire Ronald and members joined a lunchtime rally in Belfast city centre. Member Ann McQueen said: ‘I rearranged my hours in agreement with my manager so I that could attend the rally and show my support for striking colleagues.’

The CSP made its presence felt in Wales with more than 180 members at the Cardiff rally, which was addressed by regional steward Louise Wright.

Over half of NHS Lothian CSP members turned up for the Edinburgh march and rally and 200 members took part in Bristol.

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