26 October 2020
Chris Rigby, Green Party Councillor for Winton East was one of the invited speakers at the #NHSPay15 rally held in Bournemouth Square on Saturday 17th October, a grassroots campaign led by frontline NHS workers demanding pay justice for all NHS workers.
Here is a transcript of Chris's speech:
“As Debbie said, I’m here from the Green Party and I’m also a Councillor, but I’m not here today as a Councillor, I’m not here today as part of the Green Party, I’m here today as just someone who has used and who will use the NHS again, someone who believes that a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay and the one thing is – I don’t want to be here today. I don’t want to be here because you shouldn’t have to be here. You should be able to spend your free time with your families relaxing even now, not having to stand outside and protest just to ask for fair pay. It’s not right and that’s why I support you.
“I’ve been on more marches with the NHS than I can count. I think I’ve been on anti-austerity marches for at least the last ten years – in 2017 the Against the NHS Cuts march, in 2018 Keep Your Hands Off the NHS, Don’t Privatise It march and Standing with Junior Doctors in 2016. It is absolutely relentless. The attacks on the NHS over the last decade is unacceptable and we have had enough of it.
“This year more than ever we’ve seen the value of the NHS, as you've been on the front line, not just with Covid but with everything else that’s been associated with it – failing mental health, failing physical health as well as Covid, and it’s staff members across the NHS not just nurses, not doctors, not therapists – everyone from every porter and housekeeper right through the entire NHS who’s working hard to keep this country going. And what did you get for it? You got a round of applause on a Thursday. And, you know, that’s deserved, but you can’t eat it, you can’t pay your rent with it, you can’t pay your bills with it, and next time I’m using the NHS I don’t want the person who’s taking care of me and looking after me to be worrying at the same time about whether they’re going to make the rent that month. That is not right and that’s why we continue doing this.
“Years and years of underfunding and defunding the NHS is only leading to one thing and that’s the power grab from the private sector to walk in and say – “Oh we can pay you – we can change – we can deal with this failing system” – and that is being set up and that is why we come out and fight time and time and time again – to keep the NHS in public hands.
“Deb just said this might be the last march today for this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop. You can keep this going online, you can use your voice wherever you can, you can share your story, tell people – people want to hear it, people do support the NHS – so you just need to keep on pushing – keep on fighting, and I’ll be there every step of the way with you. Thank you.”