Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/707/14060
Three-year pay freeze hits hard
Over 1.6 million council workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are to have their pay frozen for a third year in a row.
Bosses in local government have again used the argument that if pay is not frozen, there will be more cuts and more job losses. Yet there has been a haemorrhaging of jobs and services in local government in the last two years while the pay freeze has been in place.
Across the wider public sector, staff face either pay freezes or minimal pay rises with a 1% pay cap for many from 2012 to 2015.
The latest local government pay freeze was announced by the employers only one day after Unison published a hard-hitting report on the pay of local government workers - 'Living on the Edge'.
The report reveals that the value of local government earnings has fallen by 13% in the last three years alone and that in 2011, 38% of part-time and 8% of full-time workers earned less than the £7.20 an hour target of the Living Wage Campaign.
Living on the Edge sums up the huge levels of poverty faced by many council workers who face the unbearable strain of a pay freeze, alongside high inflation in food, fuel and transport costs. On top of this, many councils have frozen pay locally. Where I work, Nottingham city council, staff are in their second year of a local increment freeze.
While public sector workers are, like everyone else, desperately worried about their jobs, pay is becoming a massive issue. Sooner or later, there will be a massive explosion of anger about these pay freezes.
It is not sufficient for trade union leaders in local government, to lodge pay claims with no campaign to try and win them. The campaign against pay cuts, (because this is what pay freezes are), has to be linked to the struggle to defend pensions, jobs and services.
Jean Thorpe, Nottingham Socialist Party and Unison executive, personal capacity
In The Socialist 29 February 2012:
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