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Join the protests on 1 May: break Brown’s wage freeze

Kevin Courtney, a national executive member of the NUT teachers’ union, spoke to Socialist Worker about the battle against New Labour’s pay curbs

Issue No. 2046

“Gordon Brown is trying to restrict millions of public sector workers to a 2 percent rise at a time when inflation is 4.6 percent. We need to challenge him.

“Public sector pay is not the cause of inflation, and I heard no talk of the need for restraint when the elite bankers got their multi-million pound bonuses. It is these people who are driving up house prices and who are driving up inflation.

“This government plans year-on-year below inflation pay rises for public sector workers – for nurses, firefighters, teachers, civil servants and others – while mortgages, bills and council tax continue to rise.

“We passed a motion at our NUT conference last weekend calling for public sector unity. It offers an opportunity to break Brown’s pay freeze. All the unions are under pressure over pay, working conditions and privatisation.

“The union must provide campaign ­material and prepare for action alongside other unions. We must not wait for the TUC to call action – we must ask the TUC to coordinate.

“We must take every chance to talk to each other. May Day is a great opportunity. A quarter of a million civil service workers will strike that day, making it the biggest May Day for a very long time.

“We should be visiting picket lines, and PCS union members should be invited into workplaces to address other trade unionists.

“There is a fear that some at the top of the unions still have faith in Brown. We have to keep up the pressure for action.”

Kevin’s comments come as hundreds of thousands of health workers have been told they will get only a 1.9 percent rise and over a million local government workers have been offered only 2 percent.

There is mounting anger, with NHS staff poised to ballot for action over pay and many other workers also demanding their union leaders start the fightback.

Tuesday 1 May can bring that resistance together, with workers taking to the streets just days before the elections across Scotland and Wales, and in many parts of England.

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Tue 10 Apr 2007, 18:35 BST
Issue No. 2046
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