On July 29, Wednesday, thousands of health workers, including a large number of nurses, marched in London protesting their exclusion from wage hike proposed by the UK government for various professionals. The call for the march was given by the Unite union. The health workers marched from Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital to Downing Street demanding an immediate pay rise.
Last week, the UK government announced a pay increase of up to 3.1% for different professions including doctors, dentists, teachers, judges, and police officers. Morning Star reported that health workers were outraged because nurses, junior doctors, hospital porters and cleaners – who have been in the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, treating tens of thousands of patients at great risk to themselves – were all absent from the list.
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said, “Nursing staff and other allied health professionals have reacted with anger to being overlooked when pay rises were given to many in the public sector last week and the government not hearing the health trade unions’ call to bring their pay rise forward from April 2021.”
“This sense of anger was heightened, especially in light of their work and sacrifices during the global pandemic which has taken the lives of more than 500 National Health Service (NHS) and social care staff across the UK. We are facing a perfect storm for recruitment and retention in the NHS – in a decade of Tory austerity, NHS staff have seen their pay cut by 20% in real terms and many are considering leaving the health service; at the same time, there are about 40,000 nursing vacancies in England alone,” he added.
The outraged health workers have also decided to organize a nationwide protest on August 8 to demand a pay increase for NHS staff.
As of August 1, the United Kingdom had recorded over 304,800 COVID-19 cases and over 46,200 deaths. The UK has the fourth highest number of deaths.