Nurses protest over pay at demonstrations

Nurse Brenda Brown – “We are always there for you.”

By Bill Heaney

Devolved Scotland? We saw it in action today. Nurses for whom we were asked every Thursday night to go out to the front doorstep and applaud because they have been – and still are – such great heroes during this awful pandemic were forced to go out and protest over low pay at demonstrations in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Hundreds of protesters attended the “NHS Workers say No!” event at Glasgow Green, shoved out there to the outskirts far away from the limelight by the SNP administration on the City Council, who control the allocation of sites.

They must be becoming increasingly embarrassed by the number of people dismayed and disaffected by decisions made by their party colleagues in the Scottish government.

This demo was one of dozens across the country over a pay rise which campaigners say excludes “a massive number of healthcare workers” — and the public are not happy about it.

Instead of thanking NHS workers from cleaners to consultants from the bottom of her heart, perhaps First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is convinced now she should have thanked them from the bottom of her wallet.

Or perhaps she’s keeping a tranche of that money, sent up the road by Boris Johnston, for next year’s Scottish Parliamentary SNP election campaign, which she hopes fervently will lead to a second referendum, which will give Scotland the right to Independence.

Right at this moment, however, in the wake of the injustice inflicted on school pupils over their exam results and the scandalous political and administrative debacle which has led to poisonous pigeon droppings and contaminated water in our showpiece hospitals, she won’t be appreciating the bad publicity.

Then there is the fact that so many people died because Nicola at the outset in March, in lockstep with the bumbling Boris Johnston, moved far too slowly into lockdown — and far too quickly out of it leading to the epidemic which refuses to go away.

One cannot but feel sympathy for the nurses who paid a silent tribute during the Glasgow event to remember colleagues lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

They have been badly let down, just like the school pupils. The SNP will once again find it difficult to deny they are Tartan Tories, now the details of the process of deciding the exam results has been wrung out of them (see the Ferret investigation in today’s issue of The Democrat).

They have been found out to be discriminating against poor, deprived and disadvantaged people. Even the baby-faced Tory Boy, soccer linesman Douglas Ross, their new leader at Holyrood, would have waved the flag or shown the red card at that one.

As he would have, with the benefit of hindsight at least, not have shunted elderly patients, untested for Covid, out of their hospital beds out into care homes, which hadn’t the staff or PPE equipment to cope with them and where they died.

Nor would he have spent all those £ millions on a temporary hospital for which the financial projections were wrong, and never made use of it.

Meanwhile, Nicola installed herself at the podium in front of the TV camera in the bowels of St Andrew’s House and delivered screeds of political propaganda dressed up as public information for the nation. She is still at it.

NHS medical and dental workers, GPs and general dental practitioners in Scotland will receive a 2.8% pay rise, backdated to 1 April.

But that’s a pittance, and the date for the payout is apposite since the recipients are being taken for fools.

Nurses and junior doctors were not included because they agreed a separate three-year deal in 2018.

It came after the UK government announced almost 900,000 public sector workers will get rises of up to 3.1%

The Scottish government said nurses received a 2.95% pay increase this year and it is now working with the NHS unions to agree a timetable on next year’s pay deal.

That is clearly disgraceful – much less than these heroes deserve. They are graduates who are being treated as skivvies by the SNP who have taken a pledge of omerta over this and so many other matters they have handled badly.

One of the event’s organisers, NHS charge nurse Brenda Brown, said colleagues “can’t exactly feed our families on a round of applause.”

She said: “We’re looking for equal pay in relation to other public sectors.

“We’re a degree-only profession and our pay nowhere near reflects the skills, the knowledge, and the work we do behind the lines and the hospitals, the care homes and out in the community.”

Demonstrators attending the Glasgow protest wore face masks and held two-metre lengths of blue ribbon to demonstrate social distancing.

Glasgow nurses protest
A young nurse dreams of a pay raise – “Somewhere over the rainbow”.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This year nurses in Scotland received a 2.95% pay rise as part of our three-year NHS Agenda for Change pay deal.

“This has meant a minimum 9% pay increase for most staff, and with some of those still moving up their pay scale seeing increases of up to 27%.

“This is in excess of the 2.8% uplift announced for NHS dentists and doctors in England and Scotland.

“We have regular engagement with staff and unions, where all issues related to NHS staff terms and conditions are discussed.

“As we are now in the last year of the three year deal, we are working with NHS unions to agree a timetable to secure a new pay deal for 2021-22.”

The quote above is simply a piece of spin doctoring designed to make you think the nurses are getting 9 per cent when the truth is they are getting one third of that.

Lest you forget, Nicola

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