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Nurses Not Nukes

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Outrage as Government announces increase in nuclear stockpile but offers health workers a pitiful pay rise

On the morning of 1st April, members of Calder Valley CND for Peace and Justice gathered outside the NHS Health Centre in Todmorden to hold a socially-distanced photoshoot. Their aim was to show solidarity with NHS workers and particularly nurses, demanding that the government halt its announcement to increase the nuclear arsenal by 40% and drastically increase its pay offer to nurses risking their lives and health in order to keep the public safe from COVID-19. The timing was intentional - they declared that Boris is the April Fool to announce these measures at any time, but particularly now.

Photo: Judith Baron

As we entered lockdown last year, millions of people took to their doorsteps every Thursday evening to applaud the NHS workers who were on the frontline, protecting us from the ravages of COVID-19. Yet, a year later, this government has insulted those very same workers by offering nurses a measly 1% pay rise. As nursing unions have pointed out, as well as failing to acknowledge the huge sacrifices they have made, after inflation this is effectively a pay cut in real terms.

Spending billions more on an increased nuclear arsenal rather than paying nurses a decent wage is outrageous and the last thing we need. What we do need is a sustainable, peaceful recovery from the pandemic, putting healthcare first. The government's actions fly in the face of this.

By increasing the nuclear arsenal from 180 warheads to 260, cities and towns would suffer the most from any nuclear weapons attack. Almost 300, including many capital cities and major urban areas, have already passed resolutions to support the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), also known as the Nuclear Ban Treaty.

This Treaty fully binds all the states that join it in comprehensive prohibitions and positive obligations for nuclear disarmament. Although the British government refuses to sign, Todmorden and Hebden Royd Town Councils along with Blackshaw Head Parish Council have voted to join the growing movement and to declare their support for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Hebden Royd Mayor, Councillor Val Stevens, said "Hebden Royd Town Council has signed the Councillors' Pledge in support of the Nuclear Ban Treaty and is part of the Mayors for Peace movement. Nuclear weapons are an existential threat to us all. I have lived with this threat all my life and I want my children and all children in the world to be free of it."