Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://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.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


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:

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Fight to end low pay in the NHS and Care

triangleWest Socialist Party: Fight to end low pay in the NHS and Care

triangleSouth West London Socialist Party: Fight to end low pay in the NHS and Care

triangleSouth East London Socialist Party: Fight to end low pay in the NHS and Care

triangleHackney Socialist Party: Fight to end low pay in the NHS and Care

Public-sector:

trianglePCS: the real issues at stake

trianglePreparing for the showdown

Inflation:

triangleMerseyside Matalan workers walk out over pay deal

triangleLabour looks to Bank of England to stall house prices

triangleBosses' pay up a fifth while workers' pay falls ...

Unions:

triangleLabour payouts: unions must discuss political representation

triangleMandatory masks in shops law

Strike:

triangleOppose BT site closures - national strike ballot needed

PCS:

trianglePCS union: Reject longer DWP opening hours

Teachers:

triangleA socialist programme for schools

Police:

triangleBooks that inspired me: The Mother

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

5/8/20

Coronavirus

Tories' obesity plans - blaming individuals not the profit system

5/8/20

Coronavirus

Capitalism's 'vaccine war' shows need for socialist cooperation

5/8/20

Labour Party

Labour payouts: unions must discuss political representation

5/8/20

Coronavirus

NHS pay: 15% for all now

5/8/20

Coronavirus

From first wave to second? Capitalism's Covid failures

5/8/20

Universities

What would socialist universities look like?

22/7/20

China

Huawei: what's behind Johnson's u-turn?

22/7/20

Coronavirus

Fight for our livelihoods... Fight for our lives!

22/7/20

Music

Saving the music industry from pandemic and austerity

22/7/20

Luton

Luton Council sunk by airport investment: fight for funding, not speculation!

22/7/20

The Socialist

Getting the Socialist over the summer

22/7/20

Coronavirus

Fight for the NHS

22/7/20

NHS

Tories using pandemic to privatise NHS more

22/7/20

Them & Us

Them & Us

22/7/20

Steel

Nationalise Tata Steel to save jobs

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999