Tens of thousands to join pay march

Published: Saturday 18th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Tens of thousands of workers, including many who have been on strike this week, will join protests today to highlight the need for pay to increase.

Huge numbers are expected to take part in the main rally in London as well as in Glasgow and Belfast. The TUC is organising the demonstrations under the banner Britain Needs A Pay Rise, following days of industrial action by public sector workers ranging from nurses and midwives to civil servants.

Midwives went on strike for the first time in their history in protest at the Government’s controversial decision not to pay a recommended 1% increase to all NHS staff. Hospital radiographers and prison officers will take strike action in the coming week over the same dispute.

The TUC said people are facing the biggest squeeze on their incomes since Victorian times, adding that average wages have fallen by £50 a week in real terms since 2008.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Today tens of thousands of people will join the TUC’s Britain Needs A Pay Rise march.

“Our message is that after the longest and deepest pay squeeze in recorded history, it’s time to end the lock-out that has kept the vast majority from sharing in the economic recovery.

“The average worker is £50 a week worse off than in 2007 and five million earn less than the living wage. Meanwhile, top directors now earn 175 times more than the average worker.

“If politicians wonder why so many feel excluded from the democratic process, they should start with bread and butter living standards.

“An economy that finds money for tax cuts for the rich and boardroom greed, while the rest face a pay squeeze and big cuts to the welfare system – that any of us might need – is no longer working for the many.”

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said she was “overwhelmed” by the strong response from midwives in England to the industrial action.

She added: “It shows the depth of feeling on this and the levels of anger and discontent among our members. I really encourage those that can make it to join us on Saturday in London, Belfast and Glasgow so that we can show the Government just how strong their feelings are and how much support there is for fair pay.

“For too long our members and their fellow workers have suffered pay freezes with income rapidly falling behind the real cost of living. They are not asking to be paid like bankers, just for a fair reward for the work they do. Enough’s enough and now is the time to take a stand.”

GMB union general secretary Paul Kenny said: “People are currently facing the biggest squeeze on their incomes since Victorian times, and wages have fallen in real terms every year since 2010.

“The economic recovery has a long way to go as even with strong growth this year GDP per head will be still 3% below 2007 levels. This is the root cause of the value of earnings being down by 14% in real terms.

“Living standards of GMB members continue to decline, because of increased housing costs, childcare, food and utility bills. Members have faced imposed pay freezes, or derisory pay offers which do not bring earnings up to the levels that were lost during this long-running recession.”

A Treasury spokesman said: ” Under this Government we’ve seen the largest annual fall in unemployment, more people in work than ever before, and inequality lower than the average under the previous government, proving that the Government’s long-term economic plan is working.

“The only sustainable way to raise living standards is to keep working through the plan that is building a resilient economy and has enabled us to announce the first real-terms increase in the minimum wage since the great recession.

“We appreciate that the effects of the great recession are still being felt, which is why we have taken continued action to help hard-working people by cutting income tax, freezing fuel duty, helping local authorities to freeze council tax, cutting energy bills, providing free school meals, and reducing childcare costs.”

Published: Saturday 18th October 2014 by The News Editor

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