Thousands of people showed their support for health workers on 11 March by joining a nationwide slow handclap protest against the government’s controversial recommended 1% pay rise for staff.
The event, organised by health unions and the TUC, mirrored the weekly applause for the NHS at the height of the coronavirus crisis last year. Anger has been mounting since it was revealed a week ago the government had suggested to the NHS Pay Review Body that health workers should receive a 1% wage increase.
Unison thanked members of the public and health workers who took part in the slow handclap, which will be repeated on April 1, the day staff should have been getting their next wage increase. Unison said many porters, midwives, cleaners, healthcare assistants, nurses, domestics and other NHS workers will end up leaving the health service unless there is an urgent rethink by the government.
The union’s head of health Sara Gorton said:
The public took time to show the Government what they think of its plans for a stingy 1% pay rise for health workers. NHS staff across the UK have gone to amazing lengths this past year, saving lives, supporting families and nursing patients back to health. They deserve not just our thanks, but to be properly recognised for their efforts, and rewarded too.
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Health workers have given 100% but the Prime Minister and Chancellor think NHS staff are worth a measly 1%. The public doesn’t agree. People can see NHS staff been pushed to the limit. They know health workers shouldn’t have to wait a moment longer for a decent pay rise.
It’s a sound investment in the future of the NHS and would also be good for struggling local economies. It’s time the Government realised this too.
The Royal College of Nursing has set up an industrial action fund and Unite has warned of strikes in protest at the 1% figure.
NHS pay will be one of the biggest political issues in the coming weeks and could have an impact on local council elections in May, the same month the Pay Review Body is due to make its recommendation after considering submissions from the Government and unions.
Some reports suggest the government is now considering a pay offer which would “exceed” the demand of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party:
This story doesn't seem to have got much attention. The government is considering giving nurses a pay rise which would, again, exceed Labour's demand. https://t.co/gMWhHCbR8f
— Ellie Mae O'Hagan (@elliemaeohagan) March 12, 2021
Labour was criticised for not backing union calls for a “12% pay rise for NHS nurses”.
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