Sussex Defend the NHS will be out on the streets supporting NHS workers in their campaign for a decent pay rise once again. Tomorrow, Wednesday 25th August, they will be outside the Royal Sussex County Hospital from 12 until 2pm supporting the UNITE Union’s Day of Action.
Clare Jones, a local NHS nurse and UNITE staff rep. said: “A below-inflation pay offer is an insult for NHS workers and I fully support my Union’s recommendation to reject it. I am pleased that the unions are working together and saying ‘Not good enough’ to the Government.”
UNITE’s protest follows an NHS protest about pay last week organised by GMB Union.
The government has still only offered a 3 per cent pay rise which all of the major health unions say is totally inadequate. GMB calculated that, when the inflation rate was taken into account, it amounted to a pay rise of less than 0.6 per cent.
For the lowest paid workers in the NHS, it will mean less than the Real Living Wage (£9.50ph) and it’s less than the rise in the cost of housing, food and travel to work. It will widen the pay gap within the workforce, and low pay will make it more difficult for the NHS to recruit and retain staff.
Louise, a local mental health nurse in UNISON, said: “I am voting to reject the offer and I’m prepared to strike. I’m encouraging my colleagues to do the same.”
Kelly, a registered nurse from Brighton and GMB activist, explained why she and her union are campaigning for a 15 per cent pay rise. She said: “We have faced a decade of austerity so another real terms pay cut is just rubbing salt into the wound for staff.
“This year it’s actually less than a 1 per cent pay rise in real terms after 4 per cent predicted inflation, and we’ve already seen a 20 per cent pay cut since 2010.
“Also the NHS is chronically understaffed and this 3 per cent offer isn’t enough to persuade overworked current staff to stay, let alone recruit the new workers we desperately need.”
Sussex Defend the NHS sees this offer as part of the government’s efforts to undermine and privatise the NHS. They argue the government has used the pandemic as an excuse to speed up the process, wasting huge amounts of public money keeping private hospitals afloat, and funding an unworkable Track and Trace system. Instead, it should be fully funding the NHS including a 15% wage increase for its staff.
This article was also published in Brighton and Hove News.