Sunday, 26 October 2014

Britain needs a pay rise

My article in last week’s Cornish Guardian was as follows:

The Coalition Government keeps telling us that the economy is “on the road to recovery,” though the evidence shows that the level of growth is certainly patchy across the UK.

And it is clear that millions of people – struggling to make ends meet or find a new job or meet their housing costs – have yet to feel any benefit of the documented upturn.

It is little wonder that, last weekend, many tens of thousands of people took part in protests in London, Glasgow and Belfast, under the slogan “Britain Needs a Pay Rise.”

Many of the protestors were public sector workers opposed to the latest (below-inflation) 1% pay offer from the government.

The marches also came only days after industrial action by health workers – described by one newspaper as “the first strike over pay in the National Health Service since the 1980s and the first time midwives had ever taken action.”

The TUC claims that, since 2008, average wages have fallen by £50 a week in real terms. And the message from it’s General Secretary, Frances O'Grady, was that “after the longest and deepest pay squeeze in recorded history,” it was time “to end the lock-out that has kept the vast majority from sharing in the economic recovery."

She added: “An economy that finds money for tax cuts for the rich and boardroom greed, while the rest face a pay squeeze and big cuts to the welfare system – that any of us might need – is no longer working for the many.”

Ms O’Grady also made the distinction that top directors were being awarded 175 times that of the average worker, while five million individuals are still earning less than a living wage.

"If politicians wonder why so many feel excluded from the democratic process, they should start with bread and butter living standards," she said.

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of Unison, told the crowd "Our people are suffering" and the "best thing" the Government could do was "recognise the value of the masses of people here today who have suffered and give them a pay rise."

He added: "Our members didn't cause this recession, our members didn't cause the failures of the banks."

GMB union general secretary Paul Kenny meanwhile said that, for many people, living standards were still falling and families and individuals were "facing the biggest squeeze on their incomes since Victorian times.”

It seems to me that central government needs to do much more to put fairness at the heart of its economic and taxation policies.

No comments: