“We don’t want to let anybody down – but we have to make a stand in some way so we can actually live,” said donor carer Elizabeth Crawshaw.
The Unison representative was one of many who stood in the rain to show their strength of feeling yesterday.
Passing drivers beeped their horns in support as workers waved flags.
Ms Crawshaw, who works at the National Blood Service on Longley Lane, said: “We didn’t want to strike but this is the only way we can have a voice.
“We want the best NHS we can possibly get.”
She added: “Workers are incentivised if they are paid enough to live day by day.
“We’re getting a lot of support from the public, which is massively important.
“We want their support and we want them to know why we are doing it.
“It’s not something we take lightly, we all love our work.
“We don’t want to let anybody down, but we have to make a stand in some way so we can actually live.
“There are some people here who worry how they’re going to survive until the end of each month.”
A ‘skeleton service’ was in place during the four-hour walkout but people making donations yesterday faced delays waiting to be seen.
Patients were also warned to expect longer waits at the city’s hospitals, although bosses had worked with union chiefs to minimise disruption.
Steve Evans, also a donor carer, said: “This was a last resort – no-one wants to be walking out on strike – but something has to be done.
“It’s very hard. The cost of living is going up and wages are not, especially for the new people on lower pay bands.”