Healthcare unions call for ‘pay justice’ after years of austerity

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Healthcare unions call for ‘pay justice’ after years of austerity

Give all NHS staff a wage rise immediately of at least £2k, says UNISON

Unions representing health workers, including nurses, cleaners, porters, paramedics and ambulance staff, are submitting claims for pay rises for hundreds of thousands of staff following years of austerity.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Unison and the GMB Union have said now is the time to reward NHS workers as they battled against the coronavirus crisis this year.

The RCN’s Fair Pay for Nursing campaign is demanding a 12.5 per cent pay rise for nursing staff across the UK.

The GMB said its claim was for a 15 per cent pay rise, while Unison’s demand would see every NHS employee receiving an increase of at least £2,000 by the end of this year.

UNISON – which is the UK’s biggest union and represents NHS staff including healthcare assistants, radiographers, porters, midwives and paramedics – says this rise is the equivalent of around £1 an hour for all staff.

If the claim is accepted, minimum wages in the health service would go above £20,000 a year for the first time (more than £20,400 annually in Scotland), according to the union.

UNISON members – including nursing, engineering and ambulance staff – are delivering a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to put NHS pay top of his to-do list when parliament reconvenes next week, and bring forward plans for a meaningful and early rise.

The letter references Boris Johnson’s own battle with Covid-19 – and his recovery thanks to the care he received from the NHS.

It says: “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 says its pay demand – which is on behalf of staff currently on Agenda for Change contracts – is fair, reasonable and the least the government can do to show it values everyone working in the health service.

It follows calls last month from all 14 NHS trade unions for an early and significant pay increase and the publication of survey data* showing strong backing from the public.

A survey of NHS staff who belong to UNISON found four fifths (84%) said the £2,000 pay lift would make a ‘substantial difference’ to them.

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.”

Dame Donna Kinnair, general secretary of the RCN, said: “The Fair Pay for Nursing campaign is about recognising the skill, experience and responsibility demonstrated every day, in every year, by nursing support workers, nursing associates, registered nurses and all members of the profession.

Dame Donna Kinnair, general secretary of the RCN, said: “The Fair Pay for Nursing campaign is about recognising the skill, experience and responsibility demonstrated every day, in every year, by nursing support workers, nursing associates, registered nurses and all members of the profession.

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