Blog: The fights for better pay and better public services are linked

With the UK government making disastrous decisions for workers and services, UNISON will be running industrial action and consultative ballots in the coming weeks

Christina McAnea

Are your shopping bills going up? Are you thinking hard about when you put your heating on at home? Does your heart sink when you know your children need new shoes?

Everyone is feeling the effects of inflation – the increase in prices of goods and services. And inflation is rising sharply. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose from 3.1% in September to 4.2% in October, while the Retail Price Index (RPI) rose to 6.1%, the highest in 30 years.

Consumer energy prices jumped in September by nearly 20% and food prices increased to 4.5% in September. We know this is happening in different ways across the globe, but that’s no consolation when you can see your pay isn’t going as far as it used to.

This situation is now expected to last well into next year and even the Bank of England doesn’t expect inflation to return to its target of 2% until spring 2024.

The funding from the Westminster government for public services goes nowhere near what is needed to give decent pay rises to the very workers who are still getting the country through this pandemic. The value of the pay increases we have seen in some sectors has been wiped out by inflation.

This is disastrous for workers and disastrous for our public services.

We risk seeing care homes close, not enough workers to collect our bins, no support staff in schools, no-one to clean our hospitals.

The government that has been responsible for the decline in public sector pay over a decade of austerity is the same government that claims to be able to now deliver a ‘levelling-up’ agenda and to deliver world-class public services.

But the reality is, this government is the biggest risk to our public services and to workers’ standards of living.

UNISON will be running industrial action ballots and consultative ballots across a range of our sectors over the next few weeks and months. If you are contacted about this, please fill in and return your ballot paper.

This has never been more important. Because when we fight for higher pay for our members, we’re also fighting for the services you deliver, and crucially, the people who use and depend on them.