Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/516/3628

From The Socialist newspaper, 17 January 2008

Editorial

Fight three year low pay tie-ins

German train drivers have just won an 11% wage increase. German Telecom workers on the other hand have suffered accumulated wage cuts amounting to 25% in recent years. The difference is down to the militant fighting leadership of the GDL train drivers' union.

In Britain, public-sector workers will face another three years of below inflation pay awards if Gordon Brown is allowed to implement his pay freeze. The almost six million public-sector workers will be looking to their unions for a response. With the exception of a few unions, opportunities to fight against last year's deals, particularly by taking joint action, were squandered by the leaderships. No wonder that Brown is pushing ahead with more wage restraint, when he sees no determined opposition.

But it could be very difficult for public-sector union leaders to hold back strike action in 2008, especially as public-sector pay rises have fallen below those in the private sector for two years.

Brown claims that 'staging' public-sector pay awards in 2007 (which resulted in lower pay deals) "helped break the back of inflation". He said that three year 2% increase deals would now mean: "as people face mortgage bills and utility prices they know exactly what their income is likely to be ...The whole purpose of this is keeping inflation under control...there is no point in a big salary rise that's wiped out by a big inflation rise".

In other words, workers have to accept low pay supposedly to contain inflation and avoid an economic recession - when the causes of both have nothing to do with those workers, and accepting pay restraint will not prevent an economic crisis. If MPs vote this month for a 10% increase for themselves, this will fuel more anger.

The government claims that inflation is 2.1%, based on the CPI which does not include housing costs, but the inflation measure which covers all items (RPI ) is running at 4.3%. It is price rises of necessities such as food, oil and utilities that have helped push inflation up to 4.3 %.

The Financial Times quotes economists who do not see a link between public-sector pay and inflation. "What I really can't believe" says Martin Weale (Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social research) "is that, when private-sector pay rises are 4%, a rise of 2.5% for the public-sector is inflationary".

Of course while the FT may not agree that inflation is a reason to curb public-sector pay (they cite squeezed government finances) they are not calling for decent pay increases. They state that: "Taking this stand would send a clear message that the government will not shy away from a confrontation about pay if that is what it takes."

Reasons

One likely reason for three year deals is to get negotiations and possible industrial action out of the way now so that in the run-up to a general election, unions are still tied into pay deals. Another reason is the growing hole in public finances as government borrowing is likely to rise above 40 billion this year and to 50 billion in 2008/09.

Prison officers, teachers and police are the first in line. A 1.9% pay offer to police has instigated a ballot to allow strike action with a mass protest planned for 23 January. The Prison Officers Association, also restricted to 1.9%, are fighting government plans to ban prison officers from striking. They could call another strike soon, whether legal or not. Teachers' leaders have promised a ballot on pay though no date has yet been set.

Department of Work and Pensions workers in the PCS union have already taken action against an imposed below inflation three year deal with a well-supported two day national strike in December and a further strike on 31 January if talks do not move forward. Unison are consulting their membership on a 6% pay claim and the GMB on 7% for their public-sector members.

The TUC has warned that the pay attacks will put the government on "a collision course" with public servants, but as usual their angry talk is not a signal for industrial action.

With the exception of the left-led PCS, who have consistently taken strike action, the POA who organised a one day strike last year and the CWU, who also took action last year, other public-sector unions responded to anger over last year's pay cuts by talking about ballots and possible strikes but manoeuvring and delaying to avoid any action.

Last year's pay cuts came about due to staged deals and government refusals to honour the recommendations of the Pay Review bodies; pay deals were also spread throughout the year. This year is different. Not only is Brown's government intending to prolong wage cuts for another three years, it is also insisting on a fast track approach of pushing attacks through quickly on all public-sector unions.

This must be the green light for all public-sector unions to come together and plan united strike action. These six million workers have the power to shut down national and local government, prisons and schools.

At a TUC meeting of public-sector unions on 14 January the PCS again called for joint action over pay based on the same tactic of united action when fighting the attacks on pensions in 2005. All lefts and other trade union activists who see the necessity to defeat the government's pay cuts must urgently campaign within their unions for this, and also for Labour-affiliated unions to disaffiliate, as this link is used to block action.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 17 January 2008:

Fight for a living wage

Burslem: Support victimised postal workers

Editorial: Fight three year low pay tie-ins


Environment and socialism

Stop nuclear power plans NOW!

Is the burning of fossil fuels causing climate change?


Sleaze

Hain's sorry saga of sleaze

Blair's rewards from big business


Anti-Cuts campaigns

Fire cuts threat to our public safety

Cardiff schools campaign grows


Housing Crisis

Nationalise Northern Rock - permanently

Growing crisis in housing


Socialist Party news

Save our post offices

Salford says: "Don't close our women's centre"

'Them and Us': news shorts


Trade unions

Feature: Building the shop stewards' movement


Socialist Party campaigning

Ideas for campaigning and fundraising


International socialist news and analysis

Sri Lanka: New year starts with atrocities

Biggest miners' underground occupation in Polish history


Socialist Party review

Review: More Time for Politics, Diaries 2001-2007, by Tony Benn


Socialist Party workplace news

Reinstate Karen Reissman - defend mental health services!

Derby nurses fight management attacks

Liverpool: City of Cuts

Vote Jim Cessford


 

Home   |   The Socialist 17 January 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Low pay:

triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleTories retreat on pay cap

triangleThree week Argos strike ends

triangleSchools and teaching: A perfect storm of cuts, underfunding, excessive workloads and low pay

Public-sector:

trianglePreparing for the showdown

triangle30 June pension strike reports

Inflation:

triangleTories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

trianglePCS ballots members to send message to government: scrap the pay cap

triangleVenezuela: Capitalist offensive sharpens after assembly elections

Unions:

triangleWorkers' anger increases after Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

Strike:

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

PCS:

triangleConference on state spies and sabotage: who's watching who?

Teachers:

triangleSchools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

TUC:

triangleTories torn - bin them now

Police:

triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

19/10/17

Refugees

Hundreds of torture victims wrongly detained

18/10/17

What we saw

What we saw

18/10/17

Food

Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

18/10/17

NHS

Tories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

18/10/17

Debt

Young people being strangled by debts

18/10/17

Brexit

Tories torn - bin them now

13/10/17

Labour

The end of the Tories?

11/10/17

Tories

Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

11/10/17

Black history

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

11/10/17

Housing

Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

11/10/17

Universal Credit

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

11/10/17

Them & Us

Them & Us

11/10/17

NHS

NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts

11/10/17

IMF

IMF helps cause inequality it slams

4/10/17

NHS

Tories wreck our NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

triangle19 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Spanish revolution 1936-37

triangle19 Oct Cardiff East Socialist Party: Is equality for women possible under capitalism?

triangle19 Oct Wirral Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian Revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2