Austerity is taking a terrible toll on vulnerable people, on public services, on jobs and on living standards. Too many of our members have been hit with redundancy, and thousands of others have experienced a persistent erosion of their quality of life.
As described in the UNISON North West / CLES Report After Austerity, a key plank of austerity policy is public sector pay ‘restraint’. Over consecutive years of pay freezes and caps, billions of pounds have been saved at the expense of public sector workers. CLES highlights the impact of this on local economies, as money that would have been spent in our communities is withheld from our members. This is both an injustice and a false economy.
Members in the NHS are currently being balloted on industrial action over pay and I would urge everybody to vote ‘YES’. NHS staff, like other public sector workers, have seen the value of their pay fall for years and it is time that this was addressed. But uniquely, the Government has failed to implement even the below-inflation 1% rise recommended by the Pay Review Body to all health workers. In contrast, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which advises on MPs’ pay, has recommended a ‘one-off uplift in salary’ of more than 9% to ‘address the historic shortfall’.
There is a general historic shortfall in the pay of public sector workers. The consequences of this shortfall can be seen where our members are having to do without holidays, are struggling to meet food and fuel costs, are moving to cheaper accommodation, or are having to work longer hours to make up their income. It’s time that workers in the NHS, local government and across the public sector had a catch-up pay rise to make up that shortfall.