In the summer of 2020, UK National Health Service (NHS) nurses, healthcare workers and their supporters took to the streets to demand a fairer pay rate. This call was particularly poignant as they had spent the last few months battling the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, and were staring down an even longer road ahead.
Now, healthcare unions are backing the call for people across the UK to display brightly coloured posters and signs in their windows on April 1, the day the government is set to give healthcare workers their well-deserved pay rise.
However, there is also criticism that the government has only pledged a 1% pay rise, with critics calling this “meagre”, stating nursing staff feel “disgusted” by the proposal.
The poster campaign is designed to demonstrate support for England’s nurses, calling for a “proper” pay rise, particularly after Scotland’s government issued its healthcare workers with a 4% pay rise.
“Everyone can join the NHS ‘thank you’ with an eye-catching window show,” Unison General Secretary Christina McAnea told British channel ITV.
“The brighter the better, to bring cheer to everyone’s street and to those giving their all on the frontline,” McAnea added.
In an interview with ITV News, England’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that while he understands why NHS staff want the pay rise, he pointed out that they also want more nurses on staff.
With April 1 here, Royal College of Midwives General Secretary Gill Walton said that while the date marks the day for a pay rise, it is simply not enough to support those at the frontline of the health and safety of their communities.
“We’re still fighting for what the Government should have already given – a significant pay rise,” she said.
“The public are with NHS staff and their continued support is much appreciated.
“NHS staff have battled the pandemic in unbelievably tough conditions. They just want a decent pay rise. Scotland has proved a significant, backdated offer is affordable,” Walton added.
“All the UK’s NHS workers deserve a proper wage increase.”
Following on from the posters and nightly applause in support for the NHS in the midst of the pandemic last year, Royal College of Nursing Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair told ITV it was necessary the public show their support again.
“Now we’re urging them to put posters up again, this time to help ensure those staff are rewarded properly for their skill, dedication and professionalism.
“Nursing staff are disgusted with the government’s 1% pay proposal,” Kinnair stated.
“The public is with us. The government needs to listen.”