Socialist Worker

Say no to Gordon Brown's attack on public sector pay

Issue No. 2096

Gordon Brown is pushing ahead with his attack on public sector workers' pay. He said on Monday of this week, 'Three-year deals on public sector pay are an important element of what we can do to contribute to a low inflation economy.'

The reality is there is a growing rebellion against Brown's pay cuts coming to ahead on 24 April (see » Across Britain, workers prepare for mass strike). The latest insulting low pay offers to major groups of public sector workers came this week to workers in health and local government.

Local government 'final' offer is an insult

by John McDermott, Unison national executive (pc)

The local government employers have made their 'final' pay offer to 1.4 million workers of 2.45 percent plus £100 for the lowest grades.

Unison union negotiators have called this 'hugely disappointing' and the employers have called it 'fair, affordable and consistent'.

I think the negotiators have understated the derisory nature of the offer, but as for the employers,we should ask – fair to who? Not to the 1.4 million workers who are still facing a pay cut. The lowest paid workers will only receive £380 per year before tax when the average food bill has gone up £580 in the last 12 months.

Affordable? We know there is enough money for a better pay rise. How much is spent on consultants, war, Northern Rock, ID cards, Trident replacement or nuclear power?

As for consistent – well they got that right, consistent with years of below-inflation pay rises and consistent with attacking public sector workers' standard of living.

It is simply not good enough and it is still an insult. Are we supposed to be grateful for an extra crumb rather than a decent rise?

We will have to gear up for action and it is even more important that we work with the NUT and the other unions already in pay disputes.

There is a Unison local government service group executive meeting this week to discuss what to do with the 'final' offer of a pay cut in real terms.

Health workers offered below-inflation deal

by Yuri Prasad

Health workers in the NHS have been offered a three-year pay deal that is below the RPI measure of inflation in all three years.

Despite some headlines of 8 percent, the proposed deal will in fact give over a million workers an increase of just 2.75 percent this year, to be followed by further increases of 2.4 percent in 2009-10 and 2.25 percent in 2010-11.

Assuming that the RPI rate of inflation averages just 4.1 percent at the end of the three-year period, workers pay will be worth just under 5 percent less than it is today.

At the end of the three-year deal a newly qualified nurse, working outside London, and today earning £20,026 a year would be just over £1,000 a year worse off in real terms.

Despite this shocking fact, Unison union leaders seem to have welcomed the offer. Karen Jennings, head of health for Unison, said, 'We will be asking our executive to consider recommending this deal to members as a well-balanced package.'

Many of the union's activists did not share this enthusiasm, said Unison branch chair and nurse Janet Maiden, who is standing for the union's national health executive.

She told Socialist Worker, 'Last year many health workers were frustrated by their union's failure to put up a fight for decent pay. But our leadership promised that this year there would be some catch-up. Instead they have endorsed a terrible deal.

'When I first joined the NHS in 1988 our union put up a fight that saw my pay rise by 20 percent. Some other health workers got rises as big as 40 percent. That was because we were prepared to strike.

'I think that our union leaders today are putting the needs of the Labour government above the needs of their members. That has got to change.'

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Article information

Tue 8 Apr 2008, 19:57 BST
Issue No. 2096
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