Oxfordshire nurses join national 'fairer pay' protest

NHS staff - excluded from the Government's recent public sector pay increases - are calling for a 15% rise.

Oxford campaigners also want to see an extension to the London weighting allowance - paid to NHS workers to help them afford local housing costs - which are as high as some areas of London.

The protest today will be static, socially distanced, and people are required to wear masks, according to the Oxfordshire UNISON health branch.

It's starting at Bonn Square in Oxford at 2pm.

Ian Mckendrick organised the action on behalf of the Union and said: "NHS workers have been on the frontline of the Covid-19 response, many have risked their lives caring for people, even carrying on even when colleagues have become seriously ill, and in too many cases dying. 

"NHS staff have delivered extraordinary efforts to reorganise NHS services to cope with the pandemic. They have been expected to do all this with inadequate protective equipment, 100,000 too few staff, and after a decade of wage cuts were NHS wages fell in value by up to 20%."

He added that many NHS workers 'live in poverty' and 'a band 2 porter in a flat in Oxford can expect to pay 80% of their wages on rent.'

Ian said: "The government can't be allowed to get away with clapping us, and then slapping us. 

"If they can spend billions of pounds keeping non-essential businesses afloat they can afford to deliver pay justice for NHS workers."  

NHS staff, angry at the government's decision to exclude the majority of NHS workers from their announcement of above inflation public sector pay awards, have organised 30 protests across the UK today.

They are calling for a 15% pay rise in recognition of the essential role NHS staff have played in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The GMB Union has expressed 'full solidarity' with the protests, claiming nurses pay has been 'held down for years'.

It refused to accept the last 3 year pay deal, which it says 'failed to reward the most experienced nurses in the NHS.'

But the Government says it's committed to supporting the entire NHS and social care workforce.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "The Agenda for Change deal has delivered year-on-year pay increases for our valued NHS staff, including increasing the starting salary for a newly qualified nurse by over 12% and the lowest starting salary within the NHS by over 16%.

"We are incredibly grateful for all their hard work and dedication during the pandemic and we will continue to ensure all staff are rewarded fairly."

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