Sunday, September 28, 2014

Austerity Isn't Working

With Members of Parliament having recently heard that they will be awarded a 10% pay rise next year, the rest of the workers in the public sector will reflect on their own lot. Having just come out of a three-year pay freeze, this year's and next year's 1% rises look positively generous by Gideon Osborne's earlier standards. But compared to MPs, it really isn't funny that workers in the NHS, education and public services have experienced a pay cut of up to 20%, in real terms, during the life of this government.

It is mostly women, in part-time work in the child and adult care sectors and administrative jobs in vital local services, who are disproportionately affected by government pay policy. The Child Poverty Action Group recently reported that 60% of children living in poverty in Britain today have at least one parent in work. Maintaining - and effectively reducing - low levels of pay does nothing to restore a healthy economy. The government's mantra of getting the deficit down rings hollow when Osborne is missing both his deficit reduction and borrowing targets this year - austerity isn't working.

With none of the various Tory parties prepared to stand up for the low-paid, it falls to workers and their unions to stand up for themselves. As next month promises industrial action by Unison and the PCS public sector unions, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has announced a mass march and rally in central London on Saturday 18th October as part of its Britain Needs a Pay Rise campaign. Eastbourne Trades Council is arranging free train travel from East Sussex to London; local trade unionists and their families can book their places here and make their voices heard in the capital on the day.

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