Editorial: Unions' exasperation over pay is justified

Money released by chancellor must go to those keeping teh NHS running, says Graham Scott

Another year, another pay round.

The unions that represent all NHS staff, other than doctors, set out their case last week for a fair pay increase in 2017, on the grounds that salaries in the health service are worth much less in real terms than they were a decade ago.

The exasperation in the accompanying comments from union leaders is palpable, and entirely justified.

Yes, they understood that the global crash of 2008 would have implications for everyone, given the parlous state of the nation’s finances. But now they and the staff they represent fail to understand why public sector workers should continue to suffer the consequences almost a decade later.

The popular view during David Cameron’s administration was that the government was out of touch, run by a clique of Old Etonians with little sense of the struggles faced by those on low incomes. His successor, Theresa May, implied that she sympathised with this view when she promised to govern ‘for the many, not the few’.

Ms May now needs to keep her word. She plays on her grammar school background, and unlike Mr Cameron, will have shared a classroom with children who went on to work in the NHS. She should understand the plight of those who cannot make ends meet.

Thankfully the new chancellor, Philip Hammond, has relaxed the government’s targets for cutting the national debt, so let’s see some of the money released go into the pockets of the nurses and their colleagues who keep the NHS running.