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Medway NHS workers protest in Chatham calling for wage increase

Scores of NHS workers took to the streets at the weekend calling on the government to pay them properly.

More than 50 people, including health workers, union members and political members met in Chatham for a "socially distance demonstration and rally".

Protesters in Chatham held a sign urging the government to "pay them what they owe them". Picture: MTUC (40252387)
Protesters in Chatham held a sign urging the government to "pay them what they owe them". Picture: MTUC (40252387)

Crowds assembled out the White Lion Pub in the High Street on Saturday with a "pay us what you owe us" banner at the front, as they headed to The Paddock, which is just under half a mile away.

Spokesman for Medway Trades Union Council, Chas Berry, blasted the government's decision not to give health workers a pay rise.

He said: “The decision to withhold a much needed raise for NHS workers. using the excuse, they are already locked in to a three year pay deal, which like all the other pay deals is effectively a pay cut, Is a kick in teeth after being lauded as heroes and applauded by the very people who made this obscene decision.”

Resident Alec Price, who is an NHS worker himself, called for the government to be challenged on their "poverty wages" for people who have worked through the pandemic.

He said: "Not just nurses and doctors but cleaners, technical and environmental staff, porters, social care workers and the list goes on, while the high earner managers stayed indoors, proving just who the key workers really are.”

Scores of people flocked to Chatham High Street to support to demonstration. Picture: MTUC (40252384)
Scores of people flocked to Chatham High Street to support to demonstration. Picture: MTUC (40252384)

This demonstration was part of a nationwide series of local demonstrations, which drew in thousands of supporters, to highlight the campaign for 15% for NHS workers.

It was organised by the UNISON Medway health branch.

National officer for the GMB union, Rachel Harrison, said: "Nurses have long endured their pay, terms and conditions being driven down for years.

"Many dedicated staff have left the NHS because they can no longer cope with the low pay combined with crippling workloads - this has plunged our health service into a recruitment crisis.

"Nurses are highly trained professionals and increasingly their pay fails to reflect this. Many thought this Government would play fair and compensate them for the risks and hard work they endured during the height of the pandemic.

NHS workers in Medway took the the streets in Chatham to protest against their pay. Picture: MTUC(40252380)
NHS workers in Medway took the the streets in Chatham to protest against their pay. Picture: MTUC(40252380)

"Instead they feel that they have been kicked in the teeth.

"If billionaires like Richard Branson can be bailed out by the government, why can’t money be spent on giving NHS workers a proper pay rise?

"GMB Union is calling on Ministers to do the right thing. We won’t stop organising and campaigning until they do.”

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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