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Turn anger over NHS pay into effective action

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Issue 2738
Health workers protested over pay last year
Health workers protested over pay last year (Pic: Guy Smallman)

It’s urgent that the heath unions step up campaigning to win a pay rise for all NHS workers.

The 14 health unions responded this week to the NHS pay review body’s call for evidence. They set out the need for an early and significant pay rise for staff.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said, “Time and again ministers remind the public about protecting the NHS. The government can show how to do just that by investing properly in the staff looking after us all.

“Many are beyond exhausted and feel let down by politicians who expect health workers to give ­everything but show them little in return.”

Health workers should be due a pay rise in April, but unions want this brought forward.

But the NHS pay review body is not due to report until May. Devolved governments in Scotland and Wales will say they are reliant on funding decisions based on this process.

This means that NHS staff across Britain are not likely to get a pay rise until June at the earliest.


Royal College of Nursing general secretary Donna Kinnair said, “NHS staff are worse off now than ten years ago.

When tens of thousands of nursing jobs are vacant, the government cannot afford to let more leave over low pay.”

Unison released a poll this week showing a ­majority of the public think the ­government should bring forward a wage increase for all NHS staff. The survey also reveals that health workers feel deeply dissatisfied with their treatment, with only one in ten saying the government values NHS staff.

Some 85 percent say they are angry at how NHS staff are being treated.

But the Tories won’t give in without intense pressure.

The mood of bitter anger among NHS workers—and the wider support from other workers—needs quickly to be turned into protests and the sort of workplace resistance that’s been seen in France.

  • Unite union members at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading are taking a further 20 days of action this month and in February.

This is the second wave of strikes in a campaign for decent pay by 23 security guards.

Their employer, Kingdom Services group, is refusing this, despite a £100 million turnover last year.

Unite regional officer Jesika Parmer said, “Our members were very reluctant to take industrial action during a national crisis, but strongly felt that the bosses were using coronavirus as an excuse to drive down pay and employment conditions which is totally unacceptable.”

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