NHS and other workers were there for us – now we should pay them fairly

Nurses from central London hospitals protest about the chronic underfunding of the NHS and other iss

Despite protesting last year, NHS nurses only received a one per cent pay rise - Credit: PA Images

The insulting pay rise of 1% offered to NHS staff, including nurses, was the most glaring gap in a disappointing Budget from the government.

It is possible and necessary to do much better for the staff who have saved so many lives, and faced so much trauma and hardship, in the past year.  

Our friends in the Scottish Greens have won proper pay rises for public sector workers in budget negotiations for several years now. Their agreement last week with the SNP means that most public sector workers have seen an increase in pay of over 12% since 2017. 

Yes, we could boost pay for NHS workers in England and Wales too. Not doing so is a political choice.

Greens voted at our conference last week to call for a 15% pay rise for NHS staff, to a lot of criticism, but as the Scottish Greens have shown this is completely possible. 

Green Party Co-Leader Sian Berry

Sian Berry says that neither the ‘Living Wage’ nor the higher rate currently reflect the reality of living in London - Credit: PA

But those working in the NHS are not the only workers who have kept London going through this crisis. Our city has been kept going through this crisis by thousands of supermarket workers, delivery drivers, cleaners, refuse collectors, social workers, repair workers, and many more. 

Everyone deserves to live with dignity. Everyone deserves to be able to access the basics of a decent life. And that is why in my campaign to be mayor I’m putting forward a boost in the London Living Wage to £14 an hour.  

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Neither the government’s so-called "Living Wage" nor the higher rate calculated by the Living Wage Foundation currently reflect the reality of living in London. Our housing costs are way above the assumptions made, and even the higher rate takes no account of the need for a buffer to cover unexpected emergencies and a modest ability to save for a rainy day. 

All workers need the dignity of work that pays a fair wage and supports a decent life. In the crisis, all these workers were there for us. And in the recovery to come, we should be there for them too.

  • Sian Berry is the co-leader of the Green Party and the party's mayoral candidate, as well as a London Assembly member and a Camden councillor for Highgate.