Anthony Gormley’s Another Place at Crosby beach, Blackpool Tower and Market Street in Manchester were the backdrops and played host to nurses across the region who gathered at these iconic sites as part of the Royal College of Nursing’s ‘Summer of Action’ for its ongoing Fair Pay for Nursing campaign.
The Fair Pay for Nursing campaign aims to secure a fully funded 12.5% pay increase for all nursing staff covered by Agenda for Change terms, as part of a one-year deal that applies equally to all bands. Ultimately, it is about providing safe and effective care for all parts of the UK.
In July 2021 the UK Government announced a 3% pay award for members in England and the Welsh Government has followed suit. This is a pay cut in real terms.
Carmel O’Boyle, Chair of the RCN’s North West Regional Board and Chair of the Greater Liverpool and Knowsley branch, said: “We chose this site because it is one of the most iconic places in Liverpool and is a great meeting point for us members to get together and demonstrate how disappointed we are in the Government.
“Covid has really highlighted the role of nurses and the complex skills the modern nurse need, but to be clear, we are not asking for a Covid reward for doing our job, we are asking for what’s due to us. Ten years of being underpaid and over-worked; we’re truly over-worked, stressed about paying our bills and feeding our families – sinking in the sand just like these statues!”
Maggy Heaton, the regional representative on the RCN Stewards committee and the event organiser behind the Blackpool protest said: “We find it difficult to recruit in Blackpool and staffing levels and skill mix are a constant struggle. Now is the time for the Government to step up and give nurses the pay award they need to bring us back in line with other professions and to pay us for the complex roles we do.
“Paying what is right and what is deserved will help with the recruitment issues and make nursing a more appealing degree profession again.”
Mike Travis, the RCN’s Trade Union Committee representative, and an organiser behind the Crosby event, said: “The government is failing to give the NHS the money it needs. This game of smoke and mirrors is dangerous for patients and the nursing staff who care for them.
“After years of pay cuts, nursing staff are worse off now than in 2010. This should have been a year to finally recognise the skill, expertise, and immense contribution of all nursing staff with a pay lift which started to bridge the gap.
“I urge all nurses in the NHS to respond to their Union’s ballot, it’s really important and takes minutes to complete a vote. We really need to make a stand for the good of the profession. If nurses do nothing, nothing will change. We won’t stand still on this pay award, we are fighting for a fair pay offer.”
RCN Manchester Central branch member and organiser of the Manchester protest Mark Anthony said: “Whilst we are standing in silence today, we cannot remain silent anymore as we have worked for too long in the most challenging of conditions without adequate recognition.”
RCN members who work in NHS trusts are being asked to respond to a consultative ballot which closes on 13 September 2021 about the pay award which will determine next steps.
Our thanks to ‘Spoilt for Choice Crosby’ who donated sandwich lunches to nurses protesting at Crosby Beach.