Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/445/5295
Brown attacks public sector workers
GORDON BROWN has declared war on public-sector workers' pay. In a recent speech to the bosses' organisation the CBI, he called for a three-year pay freeze. Brown is clearly setting out the programme he wants to implement whenever he eventually replaces Blair as prime minister.
Jim McFarlane, co-chair Dundee City UNISON, personal capacity
The chancellor was also quoted as saying: "On pay, we must do more to encourage local and regional pay flexibility. And with this year's public sector pay settlements averaging just 2.25% we are maintaining vigilance in the fight against inflation - and next year and the year after that we will maintain this discipline of low overall settlements."
But the break-up of national pay bargaining would be a big setback for workers in the public sector. Tens of thousands are already working in low-paid jobs. Brown's proposals would force even more into the poverty trap, relying on state benefits to top up their low wages.
While workers have seen their pay rise by the miserly amounts quoted by Brown they have had to face big rises in living costs. Council tax levels have soared and the charges set by the private power companies have gone through the roof. These same power companies have been recording record profits. Even highway robber Dick Turpin would have been embarrassed at this.
These proposals should be a huge wake-up call to the leaders of many public-sector unions, who try to paint Gordon Brown taking over from Blair as something trade unionists should welcome. Gordon Brown is just as much in the pocket of big business as Blair.
Instead of cosying up to him they should be preparing widespread industrial action, not only to defend existing bargaining structures but also a massive campaign to improve public services and the pay and conditions of millions of public-sector workers.
Public Service Not Private Profit
Join the lobby, 27 June
SINCE BLAIR came to office in 1997, New Labour has carried on the Tories' drive to privatise our public services. Outsourcing, the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and other forms of private sector involvement are threatened all throughout the public sector.
On Tuesday, 27 June, public-sector workers from many different unions are supporting the Public Services NOT private profit rally and mass lobby of Parliament.
The unions currently officially backing this are civil service union PCS, firefighters' union FBU, rail unions RMT and ASLEF, lecturers' union NATFHE, probation officers NAPO, community and youth workers union CYWU, journalists NUJ and prison officers' union POA.
We've got privatisation, hundreds of thousands of threatened job cuts, pay and pension rights at risk. As the letter from PCS to its members says: "The present attack on public services is on such a scale that we are in danger of witnessing the undermining of the very concept of public-service provision in this country."
Are you a trade union activist? Or are you just angry at the way that public services are being handed over to the private sector regardless of the cost?
Whatever the case, join the mass rally at 12 noon on Tuesday 27 June at Westminster Central Hall. We want public services not private profit!
"AGAIN IT'S low-paid public-sector workers who are on the end of Gordon Brown's attacks, our pensions first and now our well-earned pay increase. I dread to think what else he has up his sleeve! I for one will not take this lying down and I'm sure millions of other workers won't either. Prepare for another fight Mr Brown! "
Michelle, nursery nurse and UNISON member, Dundee
In The Socialist 22 June 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party LGBT
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news