Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020

NHS workers demand Government ‘stop clapping and start paying’ in mass protests

NHS workers who put their life on the line during the coronavirus pandemic have demanded Boris Johnson ‘stop clapping and start paying’ as they marched in the streets calling for better pay.

Hundreds of healthcare workers marched down Oxford Street, central London, Manchester, Brighton and Bristol as they highlighted the coronavirus death toll among NHS staff.

They donned scrubs stained with fake blood and chanted ‘640 healthcare workers dead, blood on their hands’ along side images of the prime minister.

The march followed two minutes of silence for fallen NHS workers.

The protest comes after nurses were excluded from a public sector pay rise in July.

Nurses slammed the decision as a ‘slap in the face’ while they were dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Alia Butt, 33, a psychotherapist from Essex, reminded Mr Johnson that nurses saved his life after he became infected with coronavirus and yet they still had to fight for a pay rise.

She said: ‘We have simply had enough. The money is there.

‘The Government clearly has not got a clue about what it is doing and that is very scary. Nurses saved the lives of the prime minister. What more do we need to do to get paid properly? It’s bizarre.’

Jordan Rivera, 43, an occupational therapist in Hackney, said NHS staff were physically drained after spending the last six months on the Covid-19 frontline.

He said: ‘Working that hard when you are already exhausted from fighting the pandemic is an outrage. 

‘How can we be expected to work through a second wave when we are physically and emotionally exhausted and on top of that, we are worried about paying our bills?’

Unite said NHS workers should get a 15% pay rise or £3,000 – whichever is greater.

The union said the claim would ‘restore the pay that NHS workers have lost in the decade of austerity since 2010’.


However, the Department of Health and Social Care said a three-year pay deal was helping all NHS staff.

A spokesman said: ‘We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of our frontline staff, particularly during the pandemic.

‘NHS staff are currently benefiting from the final year of a three-year pay deal, agreed with trade unions, which has delivered year-on-year pay increases, such as increasing the starting salary for a newly qualified nurse by 12% by 2021.

‘The independent NHS Pay Review Body makes recommendations to Government on pay increases for NHS staff, including nurses, and we will consider their advice when we receive it, while continuing to listen to our valued staff and the trade unions to ensure everyone is rewarded fairly.’

GMB union disputed a claim workers benefited from the deal, arguing that conditions had been ‘driven down for years’.

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