Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap
We are pleased to carry this article from Socialist Party member Jane Nellist regarding the public sector pay cap. The article was originally published in a recent issue of The Socialist newspaper. Jane is joint secretary of Coventry National Union of Teachers and a member of the NEC of her union, as well as being President of Coventry TUC (she writes here in a personal capacity)
Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap!
A stark new report by the government’s own advisors on public sector pay has shown that there was a 6% drop in average wages from 2005 to 2015.
That’s reflected in a £3 an hour loss for teachers, £2 an hour for police officers and £8 an hour for doctors.
More experienced teachers have lost as much as £5,000 a year because of pay restraint, and that doesn’t include the loss from increases in pension and National Insurance contributions.
There is a growing anger among public sector workers about low pay and funding cuts to the services they deliver. The Tories are wobbling on the public sector pay cap, with many cabinet members – fearing mass revolt – coming out for change.
But we cannot rely on their ‘good nature’! They’ll just cut somewhere else to pay for it. We must come out fighting.
At the 1 July ‘Not One Day More’ demo Mark Serwotka, leader of the PCS civil servants’ union, absolutely nailed it when he posed the question: “Why don’t we have a public sector pay strike to break the pay cap?”
As each day goes by, the Tories are getting weaker. Even though mathematically they have a small majority, propped up by the billion-pound bribe for votes from the DUP, they have no authority.
And it’s not only pay they’re showing weakness on, some have hinted at tuition fees being on the table too. As their poll ratings plummet, they are more divided. We need to push harder to put them out of their misery.
The recent demo was vibrant and young. Labour’s manifesto started to lift aspirations on so many fronts. The mantra of austerity, ‘we are all in it together,’ is dead.
The mood is changing and there is a tangible feeling of victory in the air. That can become a reality, but only if the leadership of our trade unions starts to lead.
Now is the time to organise the millions of public sector workers in a serious coordinated campaign, including strike action, to win back dignity for public sector workers and the services we deliver.