Key workers kept us safe during the pandemic. While many of us worked at home, NHS staff, carers, refuse collectors, teaching assistants and police staff put themselves at greater risk to be there for us.
They looked after the sick and the vulnerable. They made sure our communities functioned by ensuring bins were emptied and that parks remained open.
Rather than recognise their contribution, the Conservative government is squeezing their pay. The May 6 elections for local government, mayors and police and crime commissioners are an opportunity to stop the government from taking key workers for granted and vote for fair pay.
In the autumn of 2020 the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that there would be a one year pay freeze for most public sector key workers. This was followed up by a government recommendation that NHS workers receive just 1%.
The government argue that the pay freeze is necessary because that pay has been rising faster in the public sector than the private sector.
However, the data they’re basing this on only looked at a very brief period of time. Pay in the private sector is now recovering at the very point when the pay freeze is being introduced.
It also takes no account of how public sector pay has fallen behind during the many years of pay restraint since 2010, with the real value of pay after inflation now typically 18% below what it was in 2009.
The government are also attempting to pit public sector workers against other workers, but this ignores the fact that increasing public sector pay helps the wider economy and also fails to acknowledge the hard work and sacrifices made by people working across public services during the pandemic.
UNISON says all key workers right across the economy deserve a pay rise. For those that we represent across public services we are calling for:
Care workers to receive at least the real living wage
Sick pay to be set at least the real living wage, so that people can afford to self-isolate
All NHS staff should get at least a £2000 rise minimum of £10.23 per hour – taking the NHS pay floor above the real Living Wage and ensuring a band 5 starting salary of nearly £27,000
Contracted out staff should get a pay rise too – properly funded by the government.
Local government workers, including teaching assistants, should get a 10% rise, this would pull the lowest paid to above £10 per hour – lifting them above the real living wage of £9.50 per hour (outside London).
Stamp out poverty pay and provide a meaningful pay increase for staff in Higher Education by providing an increase of £2500
Use your vote on May 6 to tell the government to stop taking key workers for granted.
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