In the two weeks since he became our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has made a flurry of announcements, all intended to suggest that his government has energy and ideas – but also to deflect from the catastrophe of a No Deal Brexit that looms on the horizon.
There are clearly those around him who believe that crashing out of the EU is a situation that can be “managed”, but those who work in public services already stretched to breaking point know the truth – a No Deal Brexit would see public services and those who provide them hit hardest.
Millions of public service workers – including UNISON’s 1.3 million members – have seen the value of their wages slashed during a decade of austerity. Right now you shouldn’t be fearful of what the future holds – you should be seeing proper, long-term, sustained investment in public services, including much needed increases in public sector pay.
Instead of spending billions on preparing (once again) for No Deal Armageddon, that money could and should have been spent instead on better wages for public service workers.
The Health Secretary said on July 1 that it’s time to “show some love” to public sector workers. In reality that “love” should have come years ago. Instead those workers were made to pay for a crisis they didn’t cause. Now, as a result of cuts and pay caps, many public sector employers are finding it more difficult to recruit and retain staff – putting even greater pressure upon public services which are already at breaking point.
The time for real pay rises – and real investment in public services – is long overdue. That’s why I wrote to the new Prime Minister and Chancellor last week to demand that they take action and increase funding for public services. Providing adequate funding for public services and those who provide them is vital, or – deal or disastrous no deal – public services may be pushed beyond the breaking point once and for all.
The time for kind words and vague promises from politicians of all stripes is over. Money spent on public service workers and their pay is money well spent, both for UNISON members and the millions of people you serve. And at this time of real insecurity, it’s time the government provided much needed funds across the whole public sector, before further long-lasting and avoidable damage is caused.