Members of the public are being urged to join a mass slow handclap in protest at a government recommendation for a 1% pay rise for NHS workers.
As the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has announced it has set up a £35 million strike fund that can be used to provide compensation for loss of earnings and campaigning should members decide to down tools, UNISON – the second largest in the UK – is urging people to stand on doorsteps and balconies on Thursday 11 March at 8pm to show how they feel about the pay offer.
Many NHS workers said the 1% pay rise proposal would only see them take home around £3.50 extra per week.
The RCN Council – which had been campaigning for a 12% pay rise – said it had quickly set up its strike fund in order to have the finances available to its members should they wish to take action.
“In setting up this fund, the RCN will create the UK’s largest union strike fund overnight,” said a statement.
Dame Donna Kinnair – Chief Executive and General Secretary at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) – has condemned health minster Nadine Dorries’ claim that 1% was “the most” the government could afford.
She called the offer “pitiful and bitterly disappointing”.
Dame Donna also warned the government to expect a “backlash” from up to a million NHS employees over its announcement on pay, saying: “The government is dangerously out of touch with nursing staff, NHS workers, and the public. It is not a done deal, but the government has revealed its hand for the first time.
“With the time remaining before the Pay Review Body recommendation, the government can expect a backlash from a million NHS workers.”
On top of that, Unite – which also represents tens of thousands of health service staff in the UK – has also warned that it too is considering industrial action amid growing anger at the pay proposals they branded an “insult” and “hypocrisy in its greatest form”.
Ameera Sheikh – an intensive care nurse and Unite representative – said increasing living costs had left people struggling on stagnant wages, and that the government’s support earlier in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic now felt “fake”.
“We have sacrificed so much since the start of the pandemic,” Ms Sheikh added.
“And that includes moving out of our family homes to live close to the hospital and protect our families and live in complete isolation, which is something that I’ve actually had to do. We are facing an increasingly dangerous workload in the intensive care unit, and a lot of staff being redeployed to ICU without basic intensive care training.
“Also, the lack of PPE and having to reuse PPE or wear expired PPE and risking our lives.”
The Labour party has also hit out at the government’s proposal of a 1% pay rise for NHS workers, with Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, labelling it “disgusting”.
Party leader Sir Keir Starmer also said ministers must recognise the UK’s “COVID heroes”.
In response to the mounting backlash from the proposal and subsequent announcement of strike action, a government spokesman said earlier: “Over one million NHS staff continue to benefit from multi-year pay deals agreed with trade unions, which have delivered a pay rise of over 12% for newly-qualified nurses and will increase junior doctors’ pay scales by 8.2%.
“Pay rises in the rest of the public sector will be paused this year due to the challenging economic environment, but we will continue to provide pay rises for NHS workers, on top of a £513 million investment in professional development and increased recruitment.
“That’s with record numbers of doctors and 10,600 more nurses working in our NHS, and with nursing university applications up by over a third.
“The independent pay review bodies will report in late spring and we will consider their recommendations carefully when we receive them.”
You can find more information about the ‘slow clap’ protest via the UNISON website here.
Rio Ferdinand is helping change young lives with community programmes in Oldham and Salford
Ex-Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand and his foundation’s wonderful work is helping better the lives of young people in Oldham, Salford and across Manchester as a whole.
Over the past year, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and The Guinness Partnership have been putting together a vital social initiative aimed at providing opportunities and resources to young people across Greater Manchester, helping them develop their skills and aspirations for future working life.
Now, after a hugely successful 12-month campaign, their skills and progression community programme, participants are well and truly starting to feel the impact, with 90% of those taking part now stating that they are enjoying a clear idea and focus on what they want to do for a career.
It may have be thriving in Salford and Oldham at the moment, but given the benefit the scheme has already had — not to mention the ambition the Rio Ferdinand Foundation has shown around various areas of the UK since being set up in 2012 — we can only see this spreading further across the region.
The skills-based initiative engages young people aged under 25 years old and living in Guinness homes in a six-month skills-based programme which has been up and running in the two Manc boroughs, as well as the London boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth, since March 2022.
Young people from both Oldham and Salford take part in a weekly schedule of activities designed to tackle youth unemployment, including digital media training (photography, product design, filmmaking, podcasting), building and construction, CV workshops, mock interviews and more.
Not only do these shadowing opportunities garner confidence and raise aspirations among other young people in the local community, but they also help directly develop their employability skills via mentoring.
For instance, Matthew, 19 from Royton in Oldham, completed the programme and then was supported to apply to the Guinness Aspire Awards to request funding to purchase camera and lighting equipment to help him start a small local photography business. Quality stuff.
Matt says that the scheme “has been an amazing opportunity and has given [him] a chance to get back on the right path… I know what I want to do now and can’t wait to start… I would recommend that other people in my position get involved with it in the future.”
As well as markedly increasing participants health and well-being, all 100% of those involved across Salford and Oldham reported feeling more confident, with many now enjoying opportunities with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation’s partners such as Warner Music, Kiss FM, The Jockey Club and the Gym Group.
Speaking on the programme’s success, Rio himself said in a statement: “The Foundation is committed to working with young people at the heart of their communities to offer support, training, and opportunities to those that need it… engaging with the Guinness Partnership has provided a great boost to our reach and our work”.
Well in, Rio. Thankfully, he isn’t the only ex-Manchester-based footballer still trying to make a difference in the local community either:
Campbell, 38, was found dead in his home in Mossley, Tameside, on Saturday 3 July. He had been fatally assaulted and died of the injuries he sustained in the attack.
Belfield was arrested on 23 March 2023 by Suriname authorities on suspicion of drug-related offences – he’ll likely remain in the South American nation’s jurisdiction to face these charges.
Then GMP want to bring him back to Manchester to face questioning from GMP’s Major Incident Team.
Detective Chief Inspector Liz Hopkinson from GMP’s Major Incident team said: “The news of Belfield’s arrest is an important development in our investigation, we will be working with international law enforcement agencies to bring Belfield back to Manchester and continue in our pursuit to find answers for Thomas’ family.
“Through vigilance shown by our colleagues in South America, Belfield was recognised by Suriname’s law enforcement upon his arrest and information regarding his whereabouts was shared with our Force Critical Wanted Unit.
“We have previously released numerous appeals to ask for help in finding him and we thank the public for their continued support in this case.
“This is an excellent result which shows once again, that UK law enforcement does not give up on finding those abroad who are wanted for offences in the UK.”