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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 May 2010

Local government: Where's our pay award for 2010?

The first of April has once again come and gone and still we have had no pay rises. Unfortunately this is no April fool. The national employers are still refusing to move and are intent on making no award this year.

A local government worker

At a recent meeting of the London employers the London leader even told me that it wasn't a pay freeze as they hadn't "taken our increments off us"! [Increments are annual rises within a pay band, which are usually paid automatically].

Councils are using the recession as a cover for this attack. But of course what they hide is the fact that, as in previous years, many have set aside money for this year's pay award and stand to make millions a year by not paying it.

This pay cut comes at the very time when the inflation rate was announced as 5.3% (RPI) and even the rigged figure of the CPI (which excludes housing costs) is 3.7%. In effect the council employers are saying we should take a cut in our living standards of 5%.

The fact that many workers in Britain have had pay freezes and pay cuts nails the lie that is it workers' pay demands that cause inflation. The real reasons, according to the governor of the Bank of England, are the 80% increase in oil prices, the lower value of the pound and the VAT increase. So whilst the likes of BP fill their pockets with massive profits, all we get is pay cuts.

This year's pay freeze is at the same time that English councils have been building their reserves to the highest levels in a decade. In the last three years "through efficiency savings" (ie cuts in our jobs and pay) English councils have added 512 million to their unallocated reserves.

Some workers may say: "Better a pay freeze than no job", but the brutal truth is that taking a pay cut has never saved jobs.

Nationally 23,000 council workers' jobs have been cut in the first five months of this year alone. Many more are being lined up, with predictions of 500,000 jobs to go in the next five years.

The new Con-Dem government has said that: "We all need to tighten our belts and even government ministers have taken a 5% pay cut". However when you earn 140,000 a year and over half the cabinet are millionaires anyway, this is little more than gesture politics. It is more about teeing us up for further attacks.

A constant attack on the living standards of public sector workers is economic madness. In many areas of the country over 50% of those in employment are public sector workers. Many in the private sector are reliant on public sector contracts.

For every 1 earned by a public sector worker, 70p is spent in the local economy. You don't have to be an economic genius to work out that if we have less income we have less to spend in the local shops etc.

If someone asks where the money is going to come from - how about taking back the 50 billion given to bail out the banks? They are now making millions and can afford to pay massive bonuses to those who got us in the mess in the first place.

What is clear over the next few years is that nothing is going to be given to us and much is threatened to be taken from us, so we have to get organised.

The Socialist Party demands:

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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 26 May 2010:

Millionaire ministers butcher public services

Con-Dem cuts - 'only the beginning'


National Shop Stewards Network

National Shop Stewards Network conference: Time to organise against con/dem attacks

Support BA Cabin Crew


Socialist Party news and analysis

Royal Mail not for sale

NHS cuts: The Con-Dem sting in the tail

Fast News

Sri Lanka: One year after the war

Socialist Party national committee discusses building the fightback


Socialist Party workplace news

PCS conference: Preparing for action

Local government: Where's our pay award for 2010?

Fighting university cuts

Workplace news in brief


Youth

Young people: organise to fight the cuts

Socialist Party National Youth meeting

School student socialist

'Sussex Six' result

Students must pay, say the rich

Pamphlet: Our Education Under Attack: why a mass campaign is needed


Socialist Party feature

London 2012 Olympics: A big business spectacle


International socialist news and analysis

Greece: 2,500 hear Socialist MEP Joe Higgins declare week of action

Romania: Mass protests against EU/IMF deal

Puerto Rico: Students and workers fight austerity cuts


Education

Education under attack: Con-Dem government prepares for battle

Unions must defend public services

Tory government says rich must pay less


Comment

Diane Abbott and the Labour Party leadership battle


 

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