UNISON members in Northern Ireland are calling for the public to take part in a slow hand clap this Thursday as a gesture of disgust at the 1% pay rise “insult” being afforded the NHS.
The union said it wanted to send a clear message to Prime Minister Boris Johnston that the proposed rise was not accepted after the year which NHS staff have been through.
Said a spokesperson: “A 1% pay rise is bad for the health service, its workforce and each and every health worker. Such a low wage increase neither makes economic sense nor delivers the boost that the NHS needs to recover from the pandemic.
“All NHS staff have gone above and beyond every day this past year. This is no way to treat them all after everything they’ve been through. The UK government should recognise the huge effort they’ve made – and the one they’ve yet to make – reducing the backlog of appointments and operations cancelled because of Covid.
“This is about the entire NHS workforce, not just nurses and doctors. They couldn’t do their jobs without every person who makes up the NHS team. That’s the cleaners, laundry workers, healthcare assistants, porters, 999 call handlers, receptionists, lab technicians and every other job without which the NHS couldn’t function.
“They’ve been key to the fight against the virus and will be just as crucial as the NHS tackles the Covid backlog of cancelled appointments, diagnoses and operations.
“A decent pay rise would protect the NHS, help improve the morale of an exhausted workforce and provide a much-needed lift to struggling shops, pubs, restaurants, theatres and other businesses across the UK.
“UK Ministers have got this wrong and totally misjudged the public mood. Staff are exhausted and feel totally let down. Many staff already thinking of leaving will now have had their minds made up.”
To encourage the politicians to “step back from this insult”, UNISON members are urging everyone – staff and their families – to “show their disapproval and their support for health workers by joining in a slow hand clap wherever you are, and on Twitter at 8pm on Thursday”.