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Clapping is one thing – now give NHS workers a payrise by Roger McKenzie, #TUC2020 #NHSPAY15

“How can the Tories behave so callously towards the very people that have given their all to keep us safe – working round the clock in an underfunded, under prepared service with Government failures on PPE – yet unable to pay the bills or put food on the table?”

Roger McKenzie

UNISON Assistant General Secretary and candidate for General Secretary Roger McKenzie writes on why he thinks a 15% increase in pay is the least all health workers deserve.

UNISON have put in a claim for at least a £2,000 pay rise for all NHS staff, and of course I support that wholeheartedly, flat rates in general are better for our lower paid members. 

I totally support the right of the UNISON Health Service Group Executive to determine pay claims and strategy after consulting with our members – that’s UNISON’s democratic process. If elected as general secretary, I want to listen to and work with wider movements to win back all of the pay that has been lost over many years and make sure that any pay rise applies to all NHS workers including those working for private sector companies. Thats why 15% is the least that is deserved.

I sent a message of support to the recent rallies across the country – during the first wave of the public health crisis our NHS workers put themselves on the line to keep us safe, and some paid the cost of their lives for these government failures. 

Clapping for our workers is one thing – now it’s time for us all to stand with them.

During lockdown, our NHS workers worked long hours in PPE they had brought themselves looking after all of us. 
They are now facing the prospect of doing it all over again with this Government’s negligence encouraging a second outbreak instead of mitigating against it.

How can this Government behave so callously towards the very people that have given their all to keep us safe in the first peak of the pandemic – working round the clock in an underfunded, underprepared service with Government failures on PPE – yet unable to pay the bills or put food on the table?

My third point is that you need a strong and active union that can turn our legitimate call for a substantial pay rise for all NHS workers into a reality.

It is an organising response that will be required when this callous Government inevitably says no! Only a strong union with activism in both the public and private sectors of healthcare deliver will be able to make a real difference. Raising the profile and winning public support is extremely important – and I applaud that part of the strategy – but organising will, in my opinion, be the decisive difference.

This is why we need to change to an organising union, we need to and must improve our density and organisation in all areas of the NHS, As UNISON general secretary I would use the power and might of our union to win support for our staff in the NHS. Including those in privatised areas of our NHS that these claims often ignore.

That’s why my plan for investing in and supporting new activists is so important. We need to give our members more strength in the workplace so that our calls for increased pay can be backed up by union action if necessary to ensure that all NHS staff get a proper pay rise.

As general secretary of Britain’s biggest public service union I would build power in our branches and I will stand with them and other community based groups to build a union and a wider movement that will organise to win a real pay rise for NHS workers as they protest in dozens of cities around the UK.

We must take on those who are cutting and selling off chunks of our health service and making staff and patients pay the price.

My campaign for General secretary of UNISON is a campaign that wants to build work with and harness the energy of protests like the recent #NHS15 pay rallies, working together to achieve real results – giving the financial, organisational and political backing to health workers that they need to win a decent and fair future for our NHS.

We must organise and stand united in demanding a pay rise for all NHS workers.

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