Thousands of nurses are expected to protest across England and Wales tomorrow, calling for a significant pay increase.
The grassroot demonstrations come as anger mounts that nurses were overlooked in the latest public sector pay rises, which rewarded other workers including doctors, teachers and police officers.
The organisers, who coordinated the 33 protests over Facebook, said they ‘do not accept plans to exclude’ nurses and other healthcare workers from the public sector increase.
They continued: ‘We are calling on NHS staff and supporters to join us to send a clear message to the government. We will make ourselves heard until you listen.’
The next pay negotiations for NHS staff on the Agenda for Change pay contract are due to take place after March 2021 when the current three-year deal ends.
However, the organisers are demanding a 15% pay increase from 1 December 2020 ‘in order to start recovering a decade of lost wages’.
They said that the average Band 5 nurses hast lost 20% of pay in real terms since 2010, claiming ‘this has caused over 100,000 vacancies within our NHS’.
Nurses United lead organiser Anthony Johnson, who helped organise the protests, said: ‘This is what Nurses United was made for and if you’re not involved yet, get involved because we’re going to win this with you.’
The protests will meet at 11am with marches starting at 12 noon, while an online event will also allow people to take part from home. Social distancing and face coverings will be mandatory.
A key demonstration will start at St. James Parkin London, with protesters then marching along Whitehall to Downing Street and ending with a rally at Parliament Square.
Rachel Harrison, GMB Union national officer, said nurses ‘feel like they have been kicked in the teeth’ after not being awarded an improved pay deal despite their work during the height of the pandemic.
She continued: ‘GMB Union is calling on ministers to do the right thing. We won’t stop organising and campaigning until they do.’
Unite national officer for health Jackie Williams said: ‘The public expects – and ministers should deliver – a substantial pay increase for NHS staff that reflects their real worth to the NHS and society more generally. NHS workers shouldn’t have to wait till April 2021.’
The organisers are frontline nurses and midwives not affiliated with any unions.
Earlier this year, nurses in Northern Ireland have voted to accept safe staffing and pay parity proposals from the Department of Health, following strikes.