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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 April 2015

Public sector wage restraint - myth and reality

At the Trafalgar Square rally on the 10 July 2014 public sector pay strike, photo Paul Mattsson

At the Trafalgar Square rally on the 10 July 2014 public sector pay strike, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

James Kerr

In 2012 Policy Exchange, the Tories favourite think tank, produced a paper - 'Local pay, local growth' - which argued that holding down public sector wages and pensions and bringing them into line with 'equivalent' jobs in the private sector would save 6.3 billion a year.

It continued by saying the money could be better spent on tackling local unemployment and used to create hundreds of thousands of private or public sector jobs. This argument was a central plank of the coalition government's austerity agenda ie, public sector workers must tighten their belts for the good of the country as a whole. It was even bought by some in the trade union movement who hoped that by accepting attacks on pay and conditions, jobs could be saved.

It's an argument which needs to be examined in light of Unison's recent special conference, and other public sector unions, discussing pay claims ahead of a new government, and the TUC's 'Britain needs a pay rise' campaign.

Trade unionists in the public sector need to be ready to counter the claims that cuts in the public sector mean improvements elsewhere.

However, in the last three years we haven't seen a surge in the number of nurses or teachers or high quality private sector jobs. Instead, there have been savage cuts, zero-hour contracts and an exodus from the teaching profession where I work.

We need to stand firm in saying that public sector workers demanding decent pay is not just a narrow, selfish demand but also part of stopping the rot, stopping the race to the bottom, and fighting for decent jobs on decent pay for all.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 15 April 2015:


Socialist Party news and analysis

We can end the housing crisis

Labour - party of cuts

NHS is collapsing under a mountain of PFI debt

Low pay: Stop subsidising the bosses

Public sector wage restraint - myth and reality

Nuclear scrap

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Yemen: Brutal onslaught on country's poor

France: One-day strike against austerity

US: Kshama Sawant on Democracy Now

China: feminists released

Canada: first national meeting


Elections 2015

100% against austerity? Vote TUSC

Fighting local government cuts

We need a 10 an hour minimum wage

'Liverpool 47' councillors in TUSC challenge

Warrington Labour's 'time limit on democracy'

'The largest party you've never heard of'

Getting into god's chamber


Socialist Party workplace news

Glasgow and Dundee: All-out strikes demand fair pay

Glasgow strikers: 'We're all in it to win it!'

Bromley council workers show how to fight Tories

Lift workers strike over 'spy in the cab'

Unison health backs 10 an hour call

PCS: Defending check-off in DWP


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Putting socialism back in LGBT politics

Build TUSC with this paper

Election appeal update


Readers' comments and reviews

My life as a day centre worker

Review: Gods of Gold

Standing in line, hoping for work

Remembering a lost generation


 

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