UNISON delivers pay petition to Downing Street

Over 183,000 people signed the petition, demanding that the government ends the pay crisis by raising the minimum wage to £15 an hour

Christina McAnea and four members deliver a petition to No10 Downing Street
Image: Marcus Rose

Today UNISON members joined the union’s general secretary Christina McAnea to deliver a petition signed by 183,284 people, demanding the government ends the pay crisis by raising the minimum wage to £15 an hour.

Gathering on the steps of Downing Street at 6pm, four UNISON members delivered the petition on behalf of the union.

The text read: “When pay rises by less than our bills, we’re all getting poorer. But rising prices don’t have to push people into poverty. It’s the government’s choice. To end the pay crisis, we need pay rises.

“End the pay crisis. Raise the minimum wage to £15 an hour and give public sector workers inflation-busting pay rises.”

Amongst those handing in the petition was UNISON member Eddie Brand, who has worked in the ambulance service for over 35 years. He said: “The pressure on ambulance services is unprecedented, and something needs to change. We can’t carry on working under this level of demand.”

Last week, two UNISON members featured in a moving ITV news segment on the strain that ambulance waiting times are putting on workers.

Mr Brand continued: “I haven’t had a decent pay rise for more than 10 years, but the cost of living crisis means that the basics have now become unaffordable. Bills are going up, which means we’re left with no time or money for anything. The fact that mortgages are now rising will push many over the edge.”

In reference to the ongoing strike ballot for health workers, Mr Brand said: “I’m prepared to strike for better pay in the NHS. I hope this petition shows the strength of feeling from workers across the country.”

UNISON member Anu Prashar also joined the petition delivery group. As a trading standards officer, she’s seen firsthand how the cost of living crisis is making people more vulnerable to scams.

“With the cost of living crisis, many people are looking for ways to save money or get the best deal, which makes them more vulnerable to unscrupulous criminals,” she said.

“But, after a decade of Tory austerity, our service has been decimated, with staff reductions of up to 60%. The services that are meant to be there to protect consumers have been cut to the bone, making it increasingly difficult for trading standards officers like me to bring criminals to justice.”

Chris Akaluka, a hospital security supervisor and UNISON branch secretary for Newham Healthcare branch, said: “I’m here because of the meagre pay that I and my colleagues receive as NHS employees.

“We haven’t had a meaningful pay rise for over a decade, and I’ve seen my colleagues fall into poverty as a result. We all kept coming into work throughout the pandemic in order to keep this country going, and this is how the government treats us?

“The hikes in food, fuel and energy costs and more have made bills unmanageable. We don’t need clapping gestures or soundbites, we need a meaningful pay rise. We are hurting out here.”

Joining the members, Christina McAnea said: “There’s huge support for UNISON’s petition, because government failings are having a devastating impact on people up and down the country – they’re angry, and the government must take notice.

“Public services, and the workers providing them, are the real drivers of economic growth in society. But spiralling living costs and depressed wages are causing in-work poverty, which could have been avoided with the right political choices.

“We’re calling on the government to do the right thing, take urgent action and end the pay crisis. Raising the minimum wage to £15 an hour and giving public sector workers inflation-busting pay rises should be at the forefront of the government’s plans to support working people and grow our economy.”