Statement by the LLA steering committee, March 9 2021
The government’s offer of a 1% “pay rise” for the nurses and medical staff who have been at the frontline in the fight against Covid is an insult that those workers are right to reject. Taking inflation into account, this is another decrease of their already low wages, which have been cut for the best part of a decade of austerity, and are now around 7-9% below 2010 levels. In contrast, MPs have been handed eight pay rises in the last ten years, meaning they have had a 3% pay rise compared to 2010.
There are over 100,000 vacancies in the health sector – adequate pay is a necessary way to attract and retain medical staff, many of whom have in the last year worked extremely long shifts in terrible conditions and without adequate PPE. Over three quarters of healthcare workers are women, who are suffering disproportionally in the Covid crisis anyway. Asking them to make do with yet another round of clapping is adding insult to injury.
Meanwhile, the government has awarded lucrative medical contracts to their incompetent cronies and friends, while wasting £22 billion on a failed track-and-trace system and hundreds of millions on unusable PPE. At the same time, the government is cutting £30 billion of day-to-day spending on the NHS.
5% was the pay rise proposed in the 2019 Labour manifesto: Labour are opposing the 1%, but haven’t suggested an alternative figure, or mentioned the manifesto pledge. The Thatcher-created Pay Review Body is unlikely to go as “high” as 5% and even if it did, the Government isn’t obliged to take their recommendation.
Labour needs to wake up and remember it is supposed to support the working class, not dress itself up as a capitalist drag queen. The unions and Labour must jointly campaign for a just and credible pay rise for the NHS.
- We demand that all NHS staff receive pay rises that restore the income loss suffered under austerity.
- We fully support the demand for a 15% pay rise, advanced by Grassroots NHS.
- We fully support any strike action that nurses and medical staff are prepared to take and urge all LLA supporters to show active solidarity