UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended on Sunday a controversial one-percent pay rise proposal for health workers, claiming that the government is trying to give them “as much as we can” in the light of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What we have done is try to give them as much as we can at the present time. The independent pay review body will obviously look at what we’ve proposed and come back”, Johnson told reporters during a visit to a vaccination center in Brent, north west London.The UK government is facing mounting pressure to reconsider its proposed one-percent pay rise for health workers.
On Saturday, four major health unions wrote an open letter to finance minister Rishi Sunak to express their “utter dismay” at the offer and called for a fair pay deal for the people who have literally kept the country alive for the last year.
The leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer, has called the proposal “an insult,” claiming that the “COVID heroes” deserve more.
Johnson urged people on Sunday to remember that since the beginning of the pandemic there has been a public sector pay freeze.
“We’re in pretty tough times”, he said, adding that he is “massively grateful” to the National Health Service and social care workers.The one-percent pay rise, which according to trade unions would equate to as little as £3.50 ($4.8) extra per week, has been suggested to the independent NHS Pay Review Body by the Department of Health and Social Care.