A trade union organisation has just exposed the Tories’ contentious pay rise for NHS workers for what it is: a pay cut. Because the meagre 3% the government is offering doesn’t make up for over a decade of pay freezes.
NHS pay chaos
This year, the Tory government has been at the centre of a storm over NHS pay. First it was only going to give them a 1% pay rise. Now, the Tories are reportedly considering a 3% rise instead. Wow.
On Wednesday 21 July, the Tories “scrapped” their announcement on the pay rise. People were saying that the announcement may be delayed until September. But then, at around 6pm on the same day, the Tories backtracked again – announcing the 3% pay rise would go ahead, backdated to April.
On face value, the 3% is clearly better than the 1%. But the reality is that according to one group, even the Tories’ updated pay rise is actually a cut.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has done some number-crunching. It’s worked out that even with the 3% pay rise, actual pay will have fallen 7.3 to 7.6% in real terms since 2010 for the following jobs :
- Community nurses.
- Medical secretaries.
- Speech therapists.
TUC boss Frances Grady told the Observer:
It’s easy to understand the anger from NHS staff when you see what’s been done to their pay. It’s not just about the 3% – it’s the way their wages have been held back year after year.
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All our key workers deserve a decent standard of living for their family. But too often their hard work does not pay. And after the hardest year of their working lives, they deserve better.
Grady is right: NHS staff are angry.
NHS workers: already had enough
As The Canary previously reported, grassroots campaign group NHS Workers Say No has been running a petition. It calls on the Tories to give NHS staff a 15% or £3k pay rise – whichever is the greater. As of 3pm on Sunday 25 July, over 817,000 people had signed the petition. You can add your name here.
On 20 July, NHS Workers Say No took some forthright action. The group held a rally outside parliament before taking the petition to Downing Street with Jeremy Corbyn:
Enough is enough
The fight for decent pay will continue. NHS Workers Say No are holding another march at 5pm on Friday 30 July. It’s from St Thomas’s hospital to Downing Street:
📣 LONDON PROTEST FRIDAY 📣 pic.twitter.com/qBZYS6LW2F
— NHS Workers Say NO! #NHSPay15 💙 (@NurseSayNO) July 24, 2021
Holy Turner from the group told The Canary:
These figures come as no surprise to us. They’re just further evidence of how little this government care about the recruitment crisis we are facing. Why would people work or remain in a job where year on year your wages aren’t keeping pace with the rate of inflation? We are highly skilled graduate professionals.
To see that our public sector colleagues are having their pay frozen is an utter disgrace. These are the people who have literally kept the country running throughout the pandemic. We stand in solidarity with them and will support our colleagues in their fight for pay justice too.
As Labour MP Dawn Butler said, it seems that Boris Johnson and the Tories ‘have no heart’. Because not only are they delivering a real-terms pay cut to NHS staff, they’re also freezing most teachers’ pay too. But if the Tories think workers will take this lying down, they’re sorely mistaken.
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