Why Val and her colleagues will be on strike at Alder Hey children's hospital tomorrow
VAL Domnez is an 'orthopaedic practitioner' at Liverpool's world-famous Alder Hey Hospital - she puts plaster casts on children's broken limbs.
She is 46 years of age, is a single mum of two children and takes home £1600 a month, after stoppages.
On Wednesday November 30, she will go on strike for the first time in her life.
She will be joining the thousands of public service workers who will march through the city of Liverpool to protest against Government changes to their pensions.
Now, I will not bore you to death with all the complex details of the Coalition's threatened pension changes.
Because, in many ways, the strike on November 30th is not about pensions at all.
Nor, with no apology to the Daily Mail, is it about fat cat civil servants with their so-called 'gold-plated pensions'.
Nor is it about militant union 'bosses' forcing their reluctant members out onto the streets.
It is much more real than that.
For public service workers like Val, it is about making ends meet.
Under the Coalition's proposals, Val, who has worked loyally for the NHS for 24 years, would have to pay an extra £90 a month in pension contributions.
She would get less pension when she eventually retires.
And she would have to work longer to get less.
To add insult to injury, the money raised from Val's increased contributions will not go into her own personal pension pot, but into the hands of Tory Chancellor George Osborne.
But Val simply can't afford a £90 pay cut in her monthly salary.
It would be, effectively, an extra tax on her earnings.
And it would come after a two-year pay freeze for Val and for millions of other public service workers like her.
Val says: "When you are on your own like me, with two growing children, you have a really tight budget.
"I just can't afford to part with any more of my hard-earned cash.
"I would seriously have to look at freezing my pension if they put up the contributions - and there are a lot of other people in the same boat."
Val already pays out £150 a month for her pension - her contributions would soar if the Coalition plans went ahead.
She says: "I understand that we all have to make sacrifices because of the economic climate, but people like me feel we are already making sacrifices. We have had a pay freeze for more than two years and the cost of living keeps going up - electricity and gas, food and transport are all going up.
"It's already hard enough for us. People like me have worked all our lives for the NHS and given 110 per cent over the years and this is how we are repaid now with our pensions being cut back. They want us to work longer and pay more, for less.
"I've never been on strike before, but I will definitely be out on Wednesday. This strike is not about us against our employers. I would much sooner be in work caring for the kids, but we have been forced to take action. It is about us fighting for a decent pension. "
Another UNISON colleague Leanne Doyle, aged 30, works in theatre at Alder Hey and has spent 12 years in the NHS.
Leanne, who got married just two years ago, already risks losing as much as £1,000 a month if controversial re-grading proposals and cuts in on-call payments go through as part of the hospitals £26 million spending cuts.
She says: "My income is crucial to our household and we are just about managing at the moment. But any cut in what I take home through increasing my pension contribution would be too much for us to bear.
"If push came to shove, we would have to go and live with my mum and rent our house out to get some money in to cover the mortgage.
"This will be the first strike I have ever been involved in at the hospital. The staff don't want any child's care to be affected and we will all make sure that there is emergency cover at the hospital, but we all feel we have a point to make.
"We have got to stand up to the government and tell them they can't just keep taking our money and what we have earned through our own hard work.
"I don't see how it's fair that the bankers were allowed to have their debts paid off by us - and no one asked us what we thought - and they are still making lots of money. Yet we are being asked to pay for them through our pensions. How is that fair?
"Why should our pension money be used to pay off some rich banker?
"All the women here are taking their children along to the march and rally in Liverpool on Wednesday - the kids have been joining in and making their own posters.
"We all just hope that the outcome is positive - and that the government change their minds."