Sport

‘Pathetic’: Andy Murray slams 1% pay offer made to NHS workers

Andy Murray has joined the chorus of condemnation of what he called the government’s “pathetic” proposal for a 1% pay rise for England’s NHS workers.

Speaking after winning a gruelling five-set match against Germany’s Oscar Otte at Wimbledon on Wednesday night, the three-time grand slam champion said it was “fantastic” that so many frontline health workers and other key figures of the Covid pandemic had been recognised by being invited to watch the tennis over the course of the fortnight.

Since the tournament began on Monday, tribute has been paid to the hard work and efforts of NHS staff, vaccine scientists and key workers in the fight against coronavirus. Hundreds of key workers have been invited to the championships by the All England Club as a “small gesture to those who have gone above and beyond” during the pandemic.

Asked what it meant to him to be playing in front of so many people who have played prominent roles in the pandemic, Murray, 34, said: “Yeah, I mean, I think the whole country kind of realised how important they all are, and maybe hadn’t got the recognition that they probably deserve up until now.

“So, yeah, it’s fantastic that they have been able to come along and watch some of the tennis. Hopefully they can enjoy it and, yeah, hopefully the politicians can realise that they deserve more than what they are getting paid just now.”

In a criticism of the government’s pay offer, Murray added: “I think, what is it, they got something like a 1% pay rise? It was pathetic. So, yeah, they obviously deserve a lot more than that. They have done an amazing job getting us through the pandemic.”

The below-inflation pay increase for healthcare workers was announced in March by Boris Johnson, who said it was all that was affordable after the economic toll of the pandemic, and was met with anger from unions and health staff, including the Royal College of Nursing, which described the offer as “pitiful”.

The independent NHS pay review body submitted its report to the government last week and awaits the publishing of results and response by the health secretary, Sajid Javid.

The two-time Wimbledon champion’s intervention was welcomed by medical and union bodies. Unite’s national officer for health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, said: “Andy Murray has served an ace in supporting the NHS workers’ pay claim.”

The British Medication Association tweeted: “Thanks to @andy_murray for acknowledging that after well over a year on the frontline of the pandemic response, our NHS workers deserve far more than the ‘pathetic’ 1% pay offer currently being proposed by the government.”

Having reached the third round after his victory against Otte, Murray will face the Canadian Denis Shapovalov on Friday.