NHS Fair Pay marches across the UK have seen thousands take to the streets to campaign for better wages, with poignant scenes in Cambridge as flowers were laid for the 540 deceased NHS workers so far during the pandemic.
Protesters gathered in Parker’s Piece before heading to Great St Mary’s Church for the ceremony, which included speakers insisting that doctors, nurses, paramedics, housekeepers and health assistants should receive a 15% salary increase.
Officially titled ‘NHS workers say no to pay inequalities in the public sector’, the Cambridge event was hosted by local nurses Jade West, Rhea Solstice and Sharon Atkin. The group was founded “in response to the government’s refusal so far to give nurses a pay rise, despite their massive efforts to fight Covid-19.”
Jade said: “It was a very good occasion, we were all very nervous at first, but people started to pour in, we had loudspeakers from the crowd as well as the planned loudspeakers, a passage from the firefighters. , people wore blue, people brought flowers … It was a beautiful peaceful demonstration.
Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, also lent his support to the campaign.
“This pandemic has shown us who the key workers and frontline staff really are,” he said. “And so many of them work in our NHS. Doctors, nurses, health assistants, paramedics, porters, cleaners. We say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. And we say you deserve a well-deserved and well-deserved raise.
“This crisis has once again shown how vital it is that we keep our healthcare system free at the point of use and it is my priority to ensure that it is properly funded and given the resources it has. need for a long term future. A decade of cutbacks pushed hard-working healthcare workers to the brink even before the coronavirus.
“And I will never let Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings sell our NHS to Trump. Our NHS will never be on the table in a race to find a trade deal with the United States. We will stand up for the service we love! Cambridge & District Trades Council Co-Chair Pete Monaghan said: “We know all unions representing nurses and other NHSs are asking the government for a pay rise after the fantastic job they have done. did everything to keep us safe.
“Nurses, cleaners, porters, caterers, clerical staff and many others have seen more than a decade of wage freezes amount to a cut in wages.
“We support any campaign that puts pressure on the government to give our NHS staff the pay rise they deserve. It is not enough to applaud, it has to be followed by action, it is just a shame that nurses and others feel that they have to take to the streets to be heard. NHS unions are key to ensuring staff have decent working conditions, getting the pay rise they deserve and helping fill 100,000 vacancies by reducing pressure on existing staff.
The 200 people gathered outside Great St Mary’s Church also heard Keep Our NHS Public and Cllr Alex Collis, on behalf of Cambridge City Council, advocate for an end to what has turned into a pay freeze in ‘a decade.
Ness, a nursing lecturer from North Essex, said: “We hear stories from members about having to use food banks and payday loans – it’s utterly disgusting and unacceptable. We have worked tirelessly in our roles, not only through Covid-19 but over the past decade, and once again we have been treated with utter contempt by the government. “
Anthony Johnson, nurse and senior organizer of Nurses United, said: “We all know who we were counting on and what we needed in this crisis. The problem is that this government is not doing it. Our NHS colleagues are being pushed to take action to defend themselves and keep us safe so that when you press that bell there is a nurse at the end. “
More actions are planned, including a badge demonstration on August 19 – “NHS workers say no! »- and a Work Demo Day on August 26th.