Labour councillors call on Dewsbury MP to challenge government’s pay rise for NHS staff

Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood has been invited to challenge the government’s decision to award NHS staff a one per cent pay rise.

The call has come from Labour councillors and party candidates set to contest this May’s local elections.

They say the planned pay award is an “insult” and in a comment echoing the words of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, that NHS workers “deserve better” than what has been proposed.

Eight sitting councillors and three candidates have put their names to a written invitation asking Mr Eastwood to make “public representations” against the government’s plan, and to call for a change.

Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood

They are Councillors Will Simpson (Denby Dale), Graham Turner (Denby Dale), Darren O’Donovan (Dewsbury West), Mussarat Pervaiz (Dewsbury West), Eric Firth (Dewsbury East), Cathy Scott (Dewsbury East), Nosheen Dad (Dewsbury South) and Masood Ahmed (Dewsbury South) and candidates Jackie Ramsay (Dewsbury South), Geoff Kernan (Mirfield) and Imran Safdar (Kirkburton).

Speaking on behalf of the group Coun Will Simpson said key workers have “put their lives on the line” during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “The government cannot tell us to clap for the NHS while handing billions in crony contracts to their mates one week, and then tell us they cannot afford fair pay for NHS staff the next.

“Our NHS staff deserve better than this.”

The Labour group has also called on Conservative council candidates to join them in their campaign.

Reacting to the proposed pay rise Sir Keir Starmer said it was a real term pay cut.

He said: “After all we’ve been through together, after clapping for our carers, this is nothing short of an insult. It sends a very strong message to the British public.”

Reacting to the Labour group’s call, Mr Eastwood said the independent pay review bodies are due to make their recommendations in the spring, and it would be “inappropriate” for him to pre-empt those recommendations.

He added: “As the son of a nurse, I know how much they put into caring for patients. The pandemic has hammered home the dedication and compassion of our nurses to the whole country.

“The government has been honest about the costs of the pandemic, and [the Chancellor] Rishi Sunak laid out the necessary steps to address them last week.

“Even under these economic pressures, the government has recognised our nursing heroes and committed to a pay rise.

“This will build on previous pay deals agreed with unions that have seen newly qualified nurses’ pay rise by over 12% and brought average nurse pay to £34,000 a year.”