Scotland’s healthcare workers have staged a protest outside the Scottish Parliament, calling on the government to honour its promises of fair pay and recognition for their efforts during the pandemic. The protest, organised by the trade union Unison, was attended by hundreds of NHS staff, including nurses, paramedics, porters, cleaners, and administrative workers.
Unfulfilled promises and low morale
The protesters claimed that the government had failed to deliver on its pledge of a 4% pay rise for all NHS staff, which was announced in March 2021. According to Unison, many workers have not received the pay increase, or have received less than the promised amount. Some workers have also been excluded from the pay deal, such as those working in general practice, dentistry, and pharmacy.
The protesters also expressed their frustration and anger over the lack of recognition and respect for their work, especially during the Covid-19 crisis. They said that they felt undervalued, overworked, and exhausted, and that their mental health and wellbeing had suffered as a result. They demanded that the government address the issues of staff shortages, workload pressures, and health and safety risks in the NHS.
A call for action and dialogue
The protesters urged the government to take immediate action to resolve the pay dispute and to improve the working conditions and morale of NHS staff. They said that they were prepared to take industrial action if their demands were not met, and that they had the support of the public and their colleagues.
The protesters also called for a constructive dialogue with the government and the NHS employers, and invited them to listen to the voices and experiences of frontline workers. They said that they wanted to work together to create a fair and sustainable NHS that could provide quality care for the people of Scotland.
The government’s response
The Scottish Government has defended its pay offer, saying that it was the most generous in the UK and that it had been accepted by the majority of NHS unions. It said that it had allocated £800 million to fund the pay rise, and that it was working with the NHS employers to ensure that all eligible staff received their payments as soon as possible.
The government also said that it recognised and appreciated the hard work and dedication of NHS staff, and that it was committed to supporting their health and wellbeing. It said that it had invested £1.5 billion in the NHS Recovery Plan, which aimed to address the challenges and pressures facing the health service, and to enhance the workforce capacity and capability.
The government said that it was open to dialogue with the unions and the staff representatives, and that it hoped to reach a positive and constructive outcome for all parties.