Health workers deserve a better deal say Solidarity and other unions. Years of squeezed NHS budgets have meant real-terms pay cuts and severe staffing shortages.
Every winter there is a crisis in our health service and this has happened long before it was faced with the pandemic.
A pay rise that makes up for years of shrinking incomes is the right of every NHS worker given the sacrifices made over the last six months.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Unison and the GMB all launched campaigns today for the NHS to start making up for wages lost over the last decade, insisting that it’s time to reward the hard work of NHS workers in tackling the coronavirus.
The RCN has launched a Fair Pay for Nursing campaign, demanding a 12.5 per cent pay rise for nursing staff, including people working for independent employers.
The GMB said its claim was for a 15 per cent rise, while Unison’s demand would see every NHS employee receive an increase of at least £2,000 by the end of this year.
Unison, which represents NHS staff including healthcare assistants, radiographers, porters, midwives and paramedics, said its claim equated to around £1 an hour extra for all staff.
The increase would take minimum wages in the NHS above £20,000 a year for the first time, says Unison.
A letter from Unison to the Prime Minister references his own battle with Covid-19 and his recovery — thanks to the care he received from the NHS.
“Health staff have heard how much your recent personal experiences taught you about the value of what they do.
“They are now looking for you to reflect that in their pay. So, Prime Minister, why wait?”
Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: “Government ministers claim NHS staff are a ‘top priority’. The Prime Minister must not miss the opportunity to show they really mean it.
“Health-service employees have made their expectations clear — that their pay will reflect the work they’ve done during the pandemic.
“This is also the overwhelming message from the public.
“The claim is straightforward, can be brought in quickly and would ensure everyone in the NHS is recognised.
“There’s a tough winter ahead and a pandemic that shows little sign of disappearing.
“Giving health staff a morale boost now is much-needed ahead of any good news about a vaccine.”
GMB national officer Rachel Harrison said the NHS and its workers were "at breaking point" before Covid-19, which had only made things worse.
She said: “Staff put their own lives on the line, attending work to care for others, whilst being in fear for the safety of themselves and their families.
“They have been failed at all key points during the crisis, particularly when it came to pay, PPE and testing.
“Now is the time for the government to make amends.
“Give the healthcare workers the respect and dignity in pay which is long overdue to really tackle the recruitment and retention crisis within the NHS.
“Now is the time to pay up. That’s why GMB is calling for pay justice, a real-terms pay increase that makes up for the approximate loss of 15 percent.
“Substantial enough to repair the decade of austerity and real-terms pay cuts suffered by our key workers in the NHS and privatised companies operating within it.
“GMB is also calling for unsocial-hours enhancements that have been taken off NHS staff when on sick leave to be reinstated.
“Never again should workers lose out whilst on sick.”