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NHS workers to stage protest in Inverness this weekend after being left out of public pay rise

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A protest will be held in Inverness this weekend organised by NHS workers demanding a fair pay increase after their response to Covid-19 response.

The Inverness for NHS Pay Justice protect will take place in Falcon Square tomorrow, at the same time as other events are held across the country.

Organisers claim NHS workers have been “criminally let down” by the government after a “decade of austerity” with claims pay has been slashed by 20% since 2010.

Protesters claim 40,000 vacancies across the NHS require urgent attention to avoid putting patients at risk, with a 15% pay increase sought to ensure the health service is “safely staffed”.

Organisers are encouraging people to gather in a show of solidarity but stressed social distancing guidelines should be followed and people should wear face coverings.

Louise Maclean, a registered nurse, said: “Nurses have organised this but it is for everybody – the cleaners, porters, people in the kitchens – it is a whole host of different people in the hospital who have worked tirelessly to try and keep things going.

“People have moved outwith their area. Staff in the operating theatre have been asked to go to the intensive care unit and there are different areas in which people have been moved around. Nobody has once said no or that they don’t feel comfortable.

“We want to highlight that we do love our jobs but we don’t want to be going into the private sector where wages are maybe a bit better.

“We want to keep skilled people in the hospital and the Highlands and islands really struggles to train and maintain staff in the area.”

Regional MSP David Stewart, who is also Labour’s shadow health minister, said: “There is strong public support for a pay rise for health and care staff and rightly so.

“It’s time the government paid these workers what they deserve.

“We need to encourage and support these hero workers so they can protect and care for us through coronavirus.”

The protest begins at 11am. There will be a minute’s silence to remember those who have died during the pandemic.

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