A photo of protesters with placards reading #NHSPay15 and "if youre happy to exploit NHS workers and you know it clap your hands"

The Green Party of England and Wales has today backed calls for a 15 per cent pay rise for all NHS health and care staff. This follows an emergency motion brought to the party’s conference currently being held virtually due to Covid restrictions which members overwhelmingly supported.

The motion was in response to the government’s recommendations for NHS staff to be given a pay rise of just 1 per cent. When taking into account inflation, this amounts to a real terms pay cut.

The Greens’ backing is in support of trade union demands for an increased pay rise for NHS health and care staff. Both Unite and GMB – unions which represent some health workers – are calling for a 15 per cent pay rise.

The government are facing mounting pressure to concede to union demands, with nursing union the Royal College of Nursing understood to be considering balloting its members for strike action.

The motion was proposed by Green Party candidate for Sheffield City Council Rebecca Mulvaney. She told Bright Green that a 15 per cent pay rise for NHS staff would end the “pay poverty” that has “blighted” workers:

Since 2010, successive governments have imposed a public sector pay freeze that has led to a real terms reduction in pay of around 15 per cent.

A 15 per cent pay rise for health service staff would right the wrongs of Tory austerity and reverse the pay erosion and pay poverty that has blighted the past decade of incomes for some of our most committed and dedicated NHS workers.

I am delighted that conference backed this motion, thank you to everyone who supported it, and to the Green Party Trade Union Group for their support.

Speaking to the Green Party’s conference, Mulvaney also said that if the Green Party supports a “publicly funded, publicly provided” health service, the party “must fight for its workers”.

In addition to calling for a 15 per cent pay rise for NHS health and care staff, the motion also committed the party to supporting a series of demands from NHS campaign groups including Nurses United. Among these was a commitment to support outsourced NHS services being brought back in house.

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said:

The Government’s proposal for a 1% pay rise for NHS workers makes the badges, clapping and warm words look like empty gestures and rhetoric. It is an insult to the nurses and other NHS staff who have risked their lives over the past year in order to protect us all and care for those who have needed it.

This pandemic’s legacy must be a complete reassessment of who and what we value as a society, and that means recognising through their wages the importance of all those on who we depend for our welfare and wellbeing.

We also need to remember the needs of our care workers, the unsung heroes of the pandemic. We believe care should be fully integrated into the NHS – this would offer our care workers the protection of proper pay negotiations.

PS. We hope you enjoyed this article. Bright Green has got big plans for the future to publish many more articles like this. You can help make that happen. Please donate to Bright Green now.

PPS. Bright Green has an exciting series of events coming up. Join us for debates, interviews and much more.

Image credit: Steve Eason – Creative Commons