Socialist Worker

Fight for more than the Tories’ puny pay deal

Issue No. 2714

Worker on strike in Tower Hamlets, east London - workers must fight back for more than just scraps

Workers on strike in Tower Hamlets, east London - workers must fight back for more than just scraps (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Don’t listen to the noise coming from the Treasury, the Tories are doing their best to hammer workers into the ground. 

They are encouraging bosses to get people back into workplaces from 1 August—a rushed move that will put ordinary people in danger. 

The push for a return to making profits comes as infection rates rise in some areas as a result of easing lockdown. 

Putting more control in the hands of bosses is a threat to workers’ lives and public health. 

Covid-19 spikes in workplaces—from garment factories, to call centres and meat processing plants—are evidence of this. 

And, desperate to gain public favour, the government has announced an insufficient pay deal for a minority of public sector workers. 

Doctors and dentists are set to receive an increase of 2.8 percent. Teachers in England are due to get a basic rise of 2.75 percent in September.

Yet with the RPI measure of inflation standing at 1.1 percent, workers stand to gain only pennies. Chancellor Rishi Sunak boasted, “These past months have underlined what we already knew—that our public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and that we can rely on them when we need them.”

But workers have already faced years of pay freezes or below-inflation deals. 

Scraps

That means they’ve suffered a real-terms pay cut every year and are still below the level of 2010 in real terms. 

It is deeply hypocritical that the government has spent four months half-heartedly celebrating key workers, yet throw just some of them scraps in a pay deal. 

Care workers, who have arguably endured the brunt of the outbreak dealing with the high infection levels in care homes, won’t benefit from the pay rise. 

Instead of being paid by central government they’re paid by local authorities or outsourced to private companies.

And most NHS workers are exempt from the new deal because they are locked into a shoddy three-year deal that was agreed in 2018. 

Now is the time to start a renewed fight for workers’ pay—for those in the public and private sector. 

Trade unions should mount battles to fight for pay for their members. 

It’s a good time to pile pressure on the Tories and bosses of private firms to cough up and pay workers. 

It’s not as if the money isn’t there. 

By June, the Bank of England’s Coronavirus Corporate Financing Facility had handed £16.18 billion to 53 companies to ensure they didn’t lose out during the lockdown.

Over jobs, safety and pay it’s time for a real fightback.


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