I stand with our hard working key workers:
Yesterday the government announced that almost 900,000 public sector workers are set to be awarded pay rises of between 2% and 3.1% – which sounds great until you look a little closer. When you start to break it down sector by sector, profession by profession, it soon becomes clear that all is not as it first seems.
Let me be clear: I welcome public sector workers getting a pay rise, but the amounts being offered do not compensate for previous pay freezes and what is worse, many of our hardest working public sector workers have been completely left out and they are the ones who are often the lowest paid with the least secure jobs.
Let’s start with healthcare professionals – the ones who have arguably been the most at risk during the Coronavirus crisis. Doctors and dentists are set to receive a well deserved increase of 2.9% but junior doctors are excluded as the pay deal reached last year overrides it. Nurses, midwives, paramedics, healthcare assistants, hospital porters and other NHS staff miss out, instead having to stick with the pay deal reached in 2018, that awards them 6.5% over 3 years. Dame Donna Kinnair, Royal College of Nursing Chief Executive & General Secretary, quite rightly said: “Nursing staff have witnessed great public support and now need to feel the same from government. Telling them to wait until next year is not acceptable – nursing staff deserve a fair pay rise now.” Chris Thomas from the Institute for Public Policy Research concurs: “Today was an opportunity to correct that failing and open pay negotiations across the NHS. It is unforgivable that after the remarkable bravery of all our healthcare heroes they would not receive fair pay. We urge the government to reconsider their exclusion.”
Also excluded from the pay increase are social workers, care home workers and social care workers as they are paid by local authorities – authorities whose central government funding had already been cut to the bone before the government went back on their commitment to reimburse them for Coronavirus expenditure. Social care has been one of the hardest hit sectors of this pandemic, with mortality rates relating to Covid-19 being significantly higher than other sectors. No wonder I’ve had so many angry emails from constituents who work in social care, they have every right to feel snubbed and unappreciated. It seems that while the government may clap for carers, it doesn’t properly pay them.
Other public sector workers who will also miss out are local government workers and job centre staff, who have seen significant pressures on their workloads throughout the pandemic. These people were often the first port of call for those with money worries, they helped to co-ordinate local action and processed an exponential increase in benefit applications. They were key components to the response, and will continue to be so as unemployment levels rise, yet they are rarely given the recognition that they deserve.
Teachers will receive a 3.1% increase, police officers, prison officers and staff at the National Crime Agency 2.5%, senior civil servants and the judiciary 2.5%, and the armed forces 2%. And most of these rates apply to England only, so not only is there disparity across the various different sectors but also across all regions of the UK.
I stand with every key worker – private or public sector – who has been short-changed or neglected by either the government or their employer during the crisis. As demonstrated, the government may not appreciate your efforts but I do and I want to give thanks to each and every one of you. If you are not already in a trade union, there has never been a more important time to join one.