A pay rise for key workers is desperately needed. After all our key workers have been through recently there is no justification for refusing it. But after yesterday’s budget statement by Rushi Sunak it is clear that we need to ramp up the pressure on our Government . Rushi Sunak included a number of measures in his budget that will push more people into poverty. Sunak announced a freeze on the personal tax allowance. This will mean more low paid people enter the tax bracket. He also announced tax relief for landlords but no help for renters. But, he failed to include any commitment to giving key workers a pay rise. Yesterday our Government promised NHS workers a 1% pay rise. This Government has been forced into making U-turns on numerous occasions by displays of mass public outrage. We must once again show this Government how angry we are. We must fight against NHS workers getting offered pay deals of 1%. Increases of 1% are in fact a cut in real terms. We have done it before and we can do it again.
Hastings & District Trades Union Council have joined the TUC campaign to get a fair pay rise for key workers.
By Jonathan Lee (KONP Hastings and Rother – Hastings branch of East Sussex Save the NHS)
During the pandemic – key workers never stopped. Retail workers were there when our supermarket shelves needed restocking. When hospitals were at breaking point – nurses, doctors and other NHS staff were there. When children needed support and care – teachers were there. While many of us stayed at home, key workers went to work. And many risked their lives to take care of all of us.
After decades of going unnoticed – the pandemic has pulled back the curtain and revealed just how much we rely on nurses, care workers, retail and delivery workers, public transport workers, teachers and support staff, cleaners, energy workers and so many others.
We have put rainbows in our windows, clapped for carers and helped out our neighbours. It has been amazing to see how the pandemic has brought the best out in people. We have shown how we can pull together and look after each other.
But we know key workers need more than applause and appreciation. They need action. They need a pay rise.
That is why key workers are calling on the government to give them a pay rise at the next budget on 3 March.
What we are doing to get a pay rise for key workers
All across the country, the TUC have been arranging meetings to ask MPs to listen to the experiences of key workers, and support the campaign by signing an open letter to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.
An online meeting was arranged with Hastings & Rye MP, Sally-Ann Hart, to enable key workers in the constituency the opportunity to share their experiences of working through the pandemic. These included NHS staff from the Conquest Hospital, Community Mental Health workers, tutors, transport workers and others.
The meeting in Hastings with Sally Ann-Hart MP
Jonathan Lee, Secretary of Hastings & District Trades Union Council said: ”We were very grateful, and appreciate that Sally-Ann took the time to hear the personal experiences of key workers from Hastings & Rye. However, it is disappointing that Sally-Ann ultimately decided not to sign the open letter in support of key workers.”
Sally-Ann did pledge to write separately to Rishi Sunak to pass on the concerns of those present. She also said she would take forward some of the individual issues raised by the workers. We know that after the meeting Sally-Ann did write to the Chancellor. Jonathan also added “The overwhelming message I got from the meeting is about the detrimental impact of the pandemic on workers at the front-line. This impact will be evident for a long time into the future. I have deep concerns about the mental health of key workers in particular. Action is needed now to ensure that those who have supported us all are rightly rewarded.”
Statements by a few of the key workers present about why they want a pay rise for key workers
Paul Jones, a porter at the Conquest Hospital, said “With the NHS pay rise delayed, I feel disheartened and used. Considering that it was key workers who kept the country going. So all those claps were for nothing.”
Rachel Gordon, a NHS Mental Health PA , said: “Firstly, I am so proud and grateful for all of the key workers who participated in this meeting. I am thankful that she took the time to listen to us when so many of her colleagues choose to not even give us the time of day. But, I am obviously very disappointed that she won’t be publicly backing the pay rise for key workers. I hope that the continued effort of the supporters will be enough to convince the Chancellor. I hope he recognises the importance of this pay rise. We need him to understand the impact that it will have on us as key workers plus. A pay rise will also be of benefit to the economy itself. ”
Simon Hester, former Health & Safety Executive Inspector, said: “The government say they want to ‘build back better’. That will just be warm words and propaganda. Unless, key workers in the public and private sectors get a serious pay rise. They can find magic money forests for the banks, big business and the military. Now essential workers deserve serious recognition.”
In Hastings 33.1% of the workforce are key workers (ONS, May 2020). It has been calculated that there are 3785 key workers within Hastings & Rye and if they do not receive even a small 2.4% pay rise, the loss to the local economy amounts to £3,107,978. Key workers, spend locally and support local businesses. They are such an important part of the local economy.
The text of the open letter of which Sally-Ann Hart declined to sign is as follows:
We are writing as a group of MPs to raise our concerns about announcements made on pay for key workers in your Spending Review of November 2020.
Key workers across a range of sectors in our constituencies have put themselves on the line to serve our communities and keep our economy going in this unprecedented crisis.
Many of those key workers are telling us that they do not feel they are getting the recognition they deserve or being properly valued for their work.
Many are public service workers facing another government imposed pay freeze.
We call on you to use the March budget to revise your proposals and give key workers the fair pay they deserve and that our economy needs.
We call on you to give key workers a pay rise.
Please visit the TUC website or contact Jonathan Lee if you want more information:
Jonathan Lee – Secretary Hastings & District Trades Union Council and UNISON Hastings & Eastbourne Healthcare Branch Contact firstname.lastname@example.org 07930076477