It is local authority workers that have been keeping our public services working and our country on track – it is time we valued them properly and gave them a decent pay rise.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the value we place on those key workers who are doing most to keep us, our families and our communities safe, risking their lives to keep our country on track.
Today (Monday May 4) Unite has launched a social media campaign with a powerful video highlighting just how vital our council worker members have been in keeping our communities working during the Covid-19 crisis, to get them all the pay rise they deserve.
It is workers like our front line local authority workers who are protecting our communities and vital services, caring for our young and our vulnerable elderly, collecting our rubbish, cleaning our streets, and working in our crematoria to ensure dignity for those who have, sadly, fallen victim to this terrible virus.
Yet these same workers continue to be some of the lowest paid in the economy. A decade of Tory austerity and cuts has meant that many in local authority services have seen their pay drop by nearly a quarter in real terms (22 per cent) while workloads have rocketed and hundreds of thousands of their colleagues have lost their jobs.
Even before the Covid-19 crisis it was clear that local councils were on their knees and urgently needed more funding. According to the Local Government Association (LGA), local councils has faced the brunt of the cuts to public spending, with councils having lost 60p out of every £1 between 2010 and 2020. In the run up to last December’s election the LGA, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and TUC all forecast huge multibillion-pound funding gaps over the next five years.
The Covid-19 crisis has made that far worse with sector leaders calling for more help as their services are put under greater strain and other funding sources like business rates and charges dry up.
We know that Covid-19 is hitting our vulnerable and worst off hardest and this too is in part a result of government austerity cuts that have been largely targeted at the poorest areas of the country, where nine of the 10 most deprived councils in the country have seen cuts of almost three times the national average.
Unite’s campaign is about recognising the workers who are carrying on, putting their lives on the line, despite lacking vital Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and in many cases inadequate social distancing, for us. They need our support to get the decent and fair pay rise they deserve.
Each Thursday up and down the country we have applauded the workers, yet that thanks is not matched with deed. Our members have been offered a pay offer from their employers and this government. The lowest paid are being asked to accept a pay rise of little more than £1.83 per day, less than a cup of coffee in many high street chains! While employers mock our pay claim by deliberately misreading the demands on holiday leave entitlement.
This is simply not good enough. Our members are rightly insulted. They are saying “We deserve more!”
UNITE FILM – NOT TO BE MISSED
Who are the real heroes? WATCH HERE:
By James Lazou, Unite researcher (local government)