Fair Pay Fortnight begins today. It’s a timely reminder of what five years of a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government has meant for the pay packets of working people.
Prices are up by almost 20%, while pay rises for the majority of public sector staff have been around 3%.
The result is that the average full-time public sector worker has seen around £3,400 stripped from the value of their wages.
For staff at the top of their pay band – who haven’t benefited from moving up their pay scale – the figure is closer to £4,800.
The government hasn’t been able to hide the blatant injustice of its policies. The latest figures show company profits across the UK growing at 4%, the pay of chief executives running Britain’s biggest companies rising by 21%, and dividends flowing to shareholders jumping by 21%.
This toxic landscape has been further fed by the government’s relentless privatisation programme and weakening of employment rights. This leads to zero-hours, temporary and part-time contracts that plunge the lowest paid deeper into debt and uncertainty.
The government insists on presenting its savage pay policies as painful but necessary, and beneficial for the economy in the longer term. Yet this carefully constructed illusion masks the true effect that draining the economy of demand though a clampdown on pay has had on the economy.
UNISON members continue to fight the gross injustices of government pay policies. But we also need a new vision from Labour that it recognises the link between fair pay and boosting the economy.
Our point was illustrated by Landman Economics last year. Its research found that, for every 1% increase in public sector pay, round £675m of extra value is injected into the economy and around 14,000 full-time jobs are created.
The stakes for workers’ pay couldn’t be higher. And UNISON will continue to defend our members’ standards of living every step of the way.