Thousands of public sector workers across the North West are gearing up for strike action over pay in October. This will be a challenge to the Government’s public sector pay policy of unprecedented scope and scale and will clearly demonstrate that people are not prepared to accept permanent austerity.
UNISON members in the NHS will be on strike from 7am – 11am on Monday 13 October. This will be followed by action short of a strike from 14-17 October, during which time staff will not work during scheduled break periods. Health workers feel they have no option but to take action as pay is down by over 10% since 2010 and the Government has refused to pay most NHS workers even the 1% recommended by the Pay Review Body.
Council workers and staff in thousands of schools will be on strike over pay on Tuesday 14 October – following the successful day of action in July. Years of pay freezes and pay caps have left staff 20% worse off in just four years.
UNISON members will be joined in taking action by up to ten other health unions, and by Unite and the GMB in local government. Civil servants in the PCS union are also due to take strike action over pay on Wednesday 15 October.
We must make sure that the employers and the Government are in no doubt that this huge wave of action by public sector workers must lead to a change of direction in pay policy. It is not right for people to be asked to tolerate year after year of worsening living standards, and it’s reached the point where this cannot hold any longer.
The money for a pay rise is there. This week I was interested to hear of new research by Richard Murphy for the PCS on tax avoidance and evasion that showed a tax gap of £122bn a year – more than the entire UK education budget. Our members should not be asked to put up with further falls in their standard of living while tax revenue goes uncollected.