Pay freezes are ‘outrageous’

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Councillor Maureen Charlesworth (Letters, Observer, October 10) says that it is ‘outrageous’ that the Hastings Week 1066 award ceremony has had to be rescheduled to today (Friday, October 17) because of strike action.

The three unions (UNISON, GMB and Unite) with 1.5 million council and school employee members, arranged the action as part of the national pay campaign where four years of pay freezes has left them with pay worth 20 per cent less than in 2010.

Taking strike action is not an easy choice, in particular when employees’ finances are stretched, it is always the last resort.

Indeed, the three unions subsequently suspended the strike to enable further consultation with their members following a last-minute improved offer from the Local Government Association.

What has been outrageous is the systemic attack on the public sector since the Conservative led coalition government came into power.

Outrageous is Jeremy Hunt denying nurses, porters, housekeeping and other NHS staff a paltry one per cent consolidated pay rise as recommended by the independent pay review body.

Outrageous is the exponential rise in the number of people having no choice but to rely on food banks as welfare benefit payments are delayed for weeks or workers being reliant on poverty pay.

Outrageous is nearly 700,000 people hit by the ‘Bedroom Tax’, two thirds of whom are disabled.

Outrageous is East Sussex County Council cutting the Adult Social Care budget by £34 million over the next three years, leaving the most vulnerable in our communities without the support they need.

That is why I will be marching in London tomorrow (Saturday, October 18), with many thousands of others demanding that the whole of ‘Britain needs a pay rise’, not just the elite few.

Jonathan Lee

Secretary

Hastings and District Trades Union Council