‘Slow hand clap’ for NI healthcare workers

Members of the public are being invited to join healthcare workers and their families taking part in a doorstep ‘slow handclap’ protest tonight (Thursday, March 11).

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 11:35 am

The action has been organised by the Unison union following news that an “insulting” pay rise of 1% has been put forward by the Boris Johnson-led government.

In a statement yesterday, the union said its members in Northern Ireland are “sending a message to Boris Johnson that a 1% fund for NHS pay is an insult after the year they have been through”.

It said: “A 1% pay rise is bad for the health service, its workforce and each and every health worker. Such a low wage increase neither makes economic sense nor delivers the boost that the NHS needs to recover from the pandemic.

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 28/4/2020: Staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast observe the minute's silence in honour healthcare staff who have died during the Coronavirus pandemic. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

“All NHS staff have gone above and beyond every day this past year. This is no way to treat them all after everything they’ve been through.

“The UK government should recognise the huge effort they’ve made ... and the one they’ve yet to make – reducing the backlog of appointments and operations cancelled because of Covid.”

Unison has highlighted that the protest, which is also taking place on Twitter, is in support of all NHS workers, not just nurses and doctors.

“They couldn’t do their jobs without every person who makes up the NHS team. That’s the cleaners, laundry workers, healthcare assistants, porters, 999 call handlers, receptionists, lab technicians and every other job without which the NHS couldn’t function,” the union said.

“They’ve been key to the fight against the virus and will be just as crucial as the NHS tackles the Covid backlog of cancelled appointments, diagnoses and operations.

“A decent pay rise would protect the NHS, help improve the morale of an exhausted workforce and provide a much-needed lift to struggling shops, pubs, restaurants, theatres and other businesses across the UK.”

The statement goes on to say: “UK ministers have got this wrong and totally misjudged the public mood.

“Staff are exhausted and feel totally let down. Many staff already thinking of leaving will now have had their minds made up.

“To encourage the politicians to step back from this insult, Unison members are urging everyone ... to show their disapproval and their support for health workers by joining in a slow handclap wherever you are, and on Twitter at 8pm on Thursday.”