Actions speak louder than words – and the actions of this government show us who and what they really care about.
In recent weeks we have seen a constant stream of news stories about how the rich and powerful get special access to ministers, lucrative contracts and the offer of favourable tax arrangements.
At the same time, they continue to impose a cruel pay policy upon those who work in the NHS, social care, schools and local government.
They feather the nests of their friends whilst taking all those who have cared for us and kept our communities functioning throughout the pandemic for granted.
The latest instalment of our pay campaign, which launched this week, sends a clear message to the public that their actions count too.
The images depict the challenges and quiet heroism faced by our members during the pandemic.
They remind us that at the elections on 6 May we can all send a message to the UK government that they have their priorities wrong. In England the elections are for local authorities, directly elected mayors and police and crime commissioners. Although we won’t be able to change the UK government, a vote against the Tories is a way of registering a protest.
Of course many of our members are not looking for special treatment or favours. All we want is due process and proper negotiations that result in fair pay increases that recognise their hard work and sacrifices.
In the autumn of 2020 the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that there would be a one-year pay freeze for most public sector key workers. This was followed up by a government recommendation that NHS workers receive just 1%.
The government argues that the pay freeze is necessary because pay has been rising faster in the public sector than the private sector.
However, the data it’s basing this on only looked at a very brief period of time. Pay in the private sector is now recovering at the very point when the pay freeze is being introduced for many and increases kept to a minimum in the NHS.
This pay policy also takes no account of how public sector pay has fallen behind during the many years of pay restraint since 2010, with the real value of pay after inflation now typically 18% below what it was in 2009.
Perhaps worst of all the government is attempting to pit our members against other workers by suggesting that the public sector are lucky to have jobs at a time when many in the private sector are at risk of losing theirs.
This ignores the fact that millions of households today rely on two earners – and very many of them will include a public and private sector worker. The pay policy will hit household incomes which in turn will mean families having less to spend on the local high street.
We will pursue our pay claims for members in the hope that all key workers will see a decent rise – not with a divisive expectation that it’s us or them. We are all in it together.
Please look out for the campaign ads over the coming weeks – and don’t forget to make your vote count on 6 May. We must show that our actions speak louder than words too.