NHS worker fined £10,000 for organising protest against 1% pay rise

manchester police
Support us and go ad-free

Police have fined the organiser of a nurses’ protest in Manchester £10,000 after shutting down the demonstration against the NHS pay rise.

The protesters gathered in Manchester city centre on 7 March said officers told them they would be fined for violating coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions if they didn’t leave.

Unison maintained that the protest, against the government’s 1% pay rise for NHS staff, was safe and socially distanced.

The protest

Police said about 40 people attended the demonstration in the centre of Manchester, organised by a 61-year-old NHS worker.

Another NHS worker, 65, was arrested after initially refusing to leave or provide details when police broke up the demonstration. She was later de-arrested and fined £200.

As protesters were told to leave, mental health worker and Unison rep Karen Reissmann addressed the demonstrators:

Unfortunately the police have told us we can’t proceed with this despite what’s going on in the health service.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

We’ve been told we will not be able to go ahead with this, I’ll be fined and reported to my employer and disciplined and people here will be fined as well, so we will therefore be shutting it down.

I think we’ve made the point we wanted to make, we sent a message to the government. I think it’s outrageous that somehow this is deemed illegal when the size of the crowd here will be ten times bigger in hundreds and thousands of schools tomorrow morning.

This isn’t about safety, this is about the government trying to stamp down on protest which I think is a dying shame. The health service will lose out.

1% pay rise

There has been widespread outrage over the Department of Health and Social Care’s recommendation that NHS staff receive only a 1% pay rise.

NHS Providers said the long-term funding plan for the NHS, set out by the government, had assumed a pay rise of 2.1% for 2021-22.

The Royal College of Nursing is supporting members who want to strike following the pay rise. It has set up at £35m industrial action fund. Unison has also urged people to protest outside their houses on 11 March at 8pm by doing a slow clap.

Labour has argued the pay rise amounts to a “real terms cut”, and some Conservative backbenchers have also criticised the proposal.

Right to protest

Public gatherings have been banned under lockdown restrictions, but some have raised concerns that the right to protest may be under threat as the UK returns to normal.

According to Netpol, the government is seeking to amend the Public Order Act in 2021. Netpol said the proposed changes could lead to increased police powers to control protests.

It called for the protection of the right to protest, citing evidence from 25 campaign groups that were overwhelmingly in favour of stronger protections on protests.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Ilovetheeu

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us