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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 February 2008

MPs' insult to low-paid workers

LOW-PAID public sector workers are facing three years of below-inflation pay rises. Two MPs from Wakefield area, Mary Creagh and Ed Balls, voted for a 1.9% pay rise for MPs instead of the 2.8% they had been recommended for. But workers are not taken in by the "discipline" being shown by these MPs.

Adrian O'Malley, Unison branch chair, Wakefield and Pontefract Hospitals, Pinderfields Hospital.

As any schoolchild will tell you "1.9% of nothing is nothing" and as usual the real losers under this government's so-called pay restraint will be those at the bottom of the pay scale who are earning a fraction of their MP's salary.

TGWU cleaners demonstrating against low pay, photo Molly Cooper

TGWU cleaners demonstrating against low pay, photo Molly Cooper

According to the local press, Mary Creagh turned down a 2.8% pay rise of 1,543. But Mary's 1.9% rise is still an annual increase of 1,145 or 22 per week. I wrote to the local paper, saying that in comparison, a pay rise of 1.9% is worth 5 a week to a hospital porter and 7.20 a week to a newly qualified staff nurse.

If we were to have a 22 a week pay rise across the board this would be a pay rise of over 8% to a porter and 6% to a newly qualified staff nurse.

When Mr Balls adds on his and his wife's ministerial salary and their tax relief on their second home in London, the MPs' action is clearly just a gesture aimed at supporting what are in effect pay cuts being forced on six million public-sector workers.

Mary Creagh claims pay restraint is necessary if we are to avoid "rampant inflation". Is she immune to the 17% rises in energy bills announced recently or the increases in necessities such as petrol and groceries? To the ordinary man and woman in the street, struggling to make ends meet on low pay, there already is rampant inflation.

If giving Unison members in the NHS and local government a 6% pay rise is inflationary, why didn't MPs complain about inflationary wage rises when the fat cats in the City of London were awarding themselves 1 million bonuses before Christmas? If the government is so strapped for cash where did they find the billions needed to bail out Northern Rock?

Public-sector wages are not responsible for the government's economic problems and therefore public-sector workers should not have to suffer pay cuts in an attempt to solve them.

Trade union branches like ours, representing public-sector workers, will be resisting any attempts by the government to impose below-inflation pay rises. We will not be influenced by the government spin coming from Labour MPs.

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In The Socialist 6 February 2008:

MPs' insult to low-paid workers

Their hands in our till

Protests as multinational grabs health centre

Rich avoid paying 25 billion tax bill

Why they call them 'fat cats'


War and terrorism

Bush and Brown's Afghan strategy lies in tatters


Socialist Party women

Fight attacks on abortion rights


Socialist Party news and analysis

Victory! Bristol campaign saves library

Victory! Hull youth workers save jobs

Inspiring victory for Polish workers

Fighting the BNP in Barnsley

Shell output is down, but profits hit new record


Young workers and Students

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Protest against university fees

Refreshing student work in Bangor

International Socialist Resistance website

Socialist Students website


Environment and socialism

Incinerators: Our health at risk!

Stop the Anglesey nuclear time-bomb


Socialist Party debate

How can an alternative to the main political parties be developed?


International socialist news and analysis

Kenya: Workers' movement must provide an alternative

France: LCR votes to launch a new party


Workplace news

Birmingham: Thousands on strike against pay cuts

Workplace news in brief


 

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Related links:

Low-paid:

triangleTrade union action can end low pay

triangleLaughable research denies low-pay scandal

triangleNewham bin workers ballot for strikes

triangle20 years of the minimum wage: Fight for a real living wage for every worker

triangleTGIFriday workers at Stratford, London. TGI staff at a number of restaurants have been on strike against cuts in their tips.

Public-sector:

trianglePCS: the real issues at stake

trianglePreparing for the showdown

Wakefield:

triangleCouncils can fight cuts!

triangleTory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

triangleWakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

Low pay:

triangleSummer of airline industry strikes against low pay and worsening conditions

triangleHuge workload, low pay and unpaid hours - a day in the life of a teaching assistant

Unison:

triangleBradford: All-out action to defeat backdoor NHS privatisation

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