NHS workers and unions have responded to the government’s confused, last-minute announcement of an “insulting” 3% pay rise with outrage. After inflation, the proposed pay ‘rise’ amounts to about 0.6%. The government has left many NHS staff – such as junior doctors – out of the proposed rise in pay. This means that they’re getting yet another real terms pay cut.
Unhappy with the pay deal, nurses and trade unions are considering industrial action. As nurses and unions have highlighted, this really is a kick in the teeth after a decade of underfunding, privatisation, falling wages, and the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Sticking two fingers up at NHS staff
On 21 July, health secretary Sajid Javid said that the merger pay rise should show NHS workers how much the Tories “value and respect their incredible contribution to our nation”. In a sense, he wasn’t lying. Responding to the government’s announcement, this parody Boris Johnson account summarised:
— Parody Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson_MP) July 21, 2021
Highlighting that claps and rainbows won’t pay NHS workers’ bills, the Green Party’s spokesperson on work and welfare Catherine Rowett shared:
Nurses deserve more than the 3%,which is a pay cut. It would have been so helpful if the leader of the opposition had pointed out that they need more. Clapping doesn't magically end in-work poverty. #NHSPay15 #NHSPayRise
— Catherine Rowett 💚 Ex-MEP (@catherinerowett) July 22, 2021
Reflecting calls led by grassroots campaign group NHS Workers Say No for a 15% pay rise, Unite assistant general secretary for politics and legal Howard Beckett said:
NHS deserve 15% not a 3% insult with a bonus of a clap.
— Howard Beckett (@BeckettUnite) July 21, 2021
This isn’t a pay rise
The government’s last-minute offer of a 3% pay rise for NHS staff actually equates to another real terms pay cut. According to the GMB Union, in the past decade, NHS workers have lost up to £9k a year through real terms pay cuts. This comes alongside a decade of cuts and privatisation, overworked staff and understaffed services, and 18 months of a pandemic which killed hundreds of frontline health and care workers. Highlighting the profound injustice of the proposed pay ‘rise’, campaign group EveryDoctor shared:
✂️ NHS staff have suffered real terms pay **cuts** of up to 30% since 2010.
👩⚕️ The NHS faces a staffing crisis of 84,000 vacancies.
💙 Thousands of NHS staff feel undervalued.
And this government responds with 3%.
NHS staff deserve better. #NHSPay15
— EveryDoctor (@EveryDoctorUK) July 22, 2021
The Green Party Trade Union Group added:
3% is not a 'pay rise'.
A 3% pay *adjustment* after over a decade of brutal austerity is an insult.
— Green Party Trade Union Group (@GreenPartyTU) July 21, 2021
MP for Leicester East Claudia Webbe shared:
1,561 NHS workers lost their lives during the pandemic. The Government has just announced a 3% pay rise for healthcare workers, which after inflation of 2.4% amounts to just 0.6% this year.
Meanwhile UK billionaire wealth increased by £107 billion
Our system is broken
— Claudia Webbe MP (@ClaudiaWebbe) July 21, 2021
Dr Julia Patterson added:
MPs have had 8 pay rises since 2010, while NHS staff have endured real-terms pay cuts of up to 32%.
If you think NHS staff deserve better than this derisory 3% rise (0.6% when inflation considered), RT 💙💙💙
— Dr Julia Grace Patterson💙 (@JujuliaGrace) July 20, 2021
What about junior doctors?
Although the inadequate pay deal covers nurses, paramedics, consultants, dentists, and salaried GPs, it doesn’t apply to all NHS staff – including junior doctors. Grassroots campaign group NHS Million shared:
A 3% pay rise that doesn’t include junior doctors. That includes the majority of doctors working in intensive care and on the NHS frontline during the past pandemic.
This is not acceptable.
— NHS Million 💙 (@NHSMillion) July 21, 2021
Highlighting the broad range of staff and responsibilities covered by junior doctors, Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden shared:
“Junior doctors” include:
-the ICU doctor ventilating COVID patients
-the A&E doctor who runs the trauma call if you get run over
-the surgeon who takes out your kid’s appendix overnight (and the anaesthetist too).
They’ve all just been left out of the 3% ‘NHS wide’ pay rise
— Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden 💙 (@sbattrawden) July 21, 2021
It’s time for the government to cough up
NHS workers and trade unions – including grassroots campaign group NHS Workers Say No – are considering industrial action, and calling on the government to give NHS staff the 15% pay rise they deserve:
NHS Workers Say NO to 3%
— NHS Workers Say NO! #NHSPay15 💙 (@NurseSayNO) July 22, 2021
Suggesting that the government has enough money to pay health workers a decent wage, David Schneider listed the government’s priorities:
WHAT THERE IS MONEY FOR:
£37bn on failed Test & Trace
£16bn on bombs & guns
£billions to pals for dodgy PPE etc
£220bn+ on Brexit
£7k an hour for consultants
£200m for a big boat
WHAT THERE ISN'T MONEY FOR:
A proper pay rise for NHS staff https://t.co/XWoeKWboio
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) July 21, 2021
Labour MP For Hemsworth Jon Trickett added:
If they can afford £130 billion for nuclear missiles, they can afford £5bn to give every NHS worker a 15% pay rise.
— Jon Trickett MP (@jon_trickett) July 20, 2021
Solidarity with all NHS workers
Calling the government’s proposals a ‘kick in the teeth’, journalist Owen Jones expressed solidarity with NHS workers campaigning for a fair pay rise:
Our nurses carried this country through its darkest moments since World War II, and the government respond by kicking them in the teeth.
Nurses should throw everything they've got at the government – and we should back them all the way.https://t.co/KCgtCSOdS7
— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) July 21, 2021
Setting out just how important it is for us all to support NHS workers’ campaign for decent pay, London Green Party trade union liaison Matthew Hull said:
We need to make clear to NHS workers that this is not just rhetoric.
If they ballot, we must support them to take industrial action.
If they vote for action, we must join them on pickets and offer material support to win this fight. (14/14)
— Matthew Hull 🍉 🌍 (@mj_hull) July 22, 2021
This is just another case of the Tory government putting profits before people. We must stand in solidarity with NHS workers and unions, and demand that the government gives them the rights, pay, and conditions they deserve.
Featured image via Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona/Unsplash
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