Monday, 21 Sep 2020

Thousands of NHS staff protest on streets after missing out on public sector pay rise despite coronavirus heroics

THOUSANDS of NHS workers have taken to the streets to demand better wages for staff left "on their knees" by the coronavirus pandemic.

In London, health workers who have missed out on a public sector pay rise fell silent for two minutes as a mark of respect for colleagues who have lost their lives fighting Covid-19.

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Marchers were applauded by members of the public as they headed to Downing Street.

The protesters chanted "Boris Johnson hear us shout, pay us properly or get out" as they neared No10.

The march in the capital is one of dozens taking place around the country today.

Medics dressed in scrubs wore masks and followed social distancing measures during the protest.

In Bournemouth, where hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to beaches today, protesters waved placards in the town centre.

One woman wore a cut-out of a hand on her face and held a sign reading 'What a clap in the face' – a reference to the weekly Clap for Carers that took place at the height of the crisis.

Meanwhile, in Glasgow, protesters used two-metre lengths of blue ribbon to keep themselves an appropriate distance apart.

Placards seen on Glasgow Green included 'Enough empty praise, geez a fair raise', 'Covid hero pay rise zero', and 'Who saved you Boris?'.

Health service staff were excluded from the wage increase for around 900,000 public sector workers announced last month.





It's because they are in the final year of a three-year pay deal.

As a result, NHS workers are due a pay rise next April.

But unions want the Government to show its appreciation for the health service by bringing the rise forward to this year.

We exclusively revealed last month that almost three-quarters of Tory voters believe all NHS workers should get a pay rise.

Some 73 per cent of Tory voters believe a pay rise for all staff including nurses, paramedics and porters is appropriate following the coronavirus pandemic.

Dave Carr, a critical care nurse at St Thomas' – the hospital which treated the Prime Minister – said staff are 'on their knees' following months of hard work tackling the pandemic.

He said: "I've got 21 years working in critical care and for me that experience was tough.

"I was drained, wearing all the PPE, incredibly long shifts.

"It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life and we're all exhausted."

Mr Carr says he's "tired and fuming" after the country's Covid-19 fight.

"We're on our knees, absolutely on our knees," he said.

"On top of it they give 900,000 public sector workers a pay rise – and I haven't got a problem with that – but they carve us out."

Melanie Gale, a senior charge nurse who ran a Covid-positive ward with an "under-staffed hard-working team", helped to organise the Glasgow event.

She said: "It was scary times not knowing what was happening – we were in the middle of a pandemic and our NHS workers stood on that front line and gave their all.

"We're here today to say we have had enough, we deserve our equal pay.

"It's 10 years of not being given a proper pay increase for the jobs we do."


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