Nurses in Edinburgh protest over pay

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Almost 300 nurses gathered at Holyrood on Saturday to protest against the recent pay rise for NHS staff – which has been capped at one per cent.

The staff, who were all from the Royal Infirmary, showcased banners, placards and flags as they marched from Johnston Terrace to the Scottish Parliament in matching t-shirts to highlight their frustration.

The action came as the Scottish Government confirmed that the pay increase for NHS staff will be capped for another year for those earning over £22,000, while employees earning £22,000 or less will receive a flat rate £400 increase.

Chris Findlay, 41, a senior charge nurse with over 20 years experience led the march and was pleased with the turnout.

He said: “The protest went really well. I was sceptical at first as just a few turned up but by the end there was between 200-300 nurses there – I was delighted with the turnout.”

He added: “The protest as a whole only lasted for a few hours but I believe we got our message out there.

“We were really vocal and lots of locals and tourists were stopping to take photos of us as we made our way down the Royal Mile.

“As well as the protest we’ve had a lot of support on social media which is great.

“It is so important to get our message out there as it’s just going to continue to get worse and worse.”

Last week, we told of how car parking charges and the annual nursing registration fee was piling on even more misery for staff who already feel undervalued after the “pay rise”.

It was reported there was a real-term fall in nurses pay of around 14 per cent.

Mr Findlay added: “We aren’t going to go away, this is only the beginning. We are going to have more protests, petitions and we will be getting our MSP’s involved.

“We want thousands of people to be taking part, not just hundreds.”

Unison branch chair, Tom Waterson, said: “I’m delighted Chris has taken the initiative to get so many nurses from Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to protest against the Westminster imposed one per cent.

“Unison Scotland does not agree with the pay review body and has taken a conference decision that we can remove ourselves from the pay review body and would urge all trade unions to join us in getting back to proper collective bargaining with the Scottish Government.”

Official figures from 2016 showed that 2207 nursing posts were unfilled – a vacancy rate of 3.6 per cent.

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk