Time to break the Pay Freeze

In local government pay is in real spending power terms now at levels equivalent to the mid-90’s.

Over 2/3rds of local government workers earn unless than £21,000 a year.

Thousands of our members rely on in-work benefits and tax credits.

Benefits the Coalition Government intend to slash through so called Universal Benefits.

Pay cuts; pay freezes; attacks on terms and conditions; job losses; restructures; services reduced are what our members face as a future if we do not take a stand.

The Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) – more accurately the Public Sector Scorched Earth Policy – is decimating service provision and public sector employment.

It’s estimated that the CSR will take £5 BILLION out of the North West economy and lead to the loss of 140,000 full time equivalent jobs in the Region.

That’s 5% of the entire regional workforce.

And yet despite a prolonged economic recession our members now face further cuts and further pay restraint.

The time has come for us to put pay and earnings back at the top of our agenda, across the whole union:

  • To campaign against this Government’s pay policy.
  • To campaign to reverse the decline in our members’ living standards
  • To campaign against any imposition of Regional pay.

Let’s be under no illusion – Regional pay would be the precursor to a downward spiral in both public sector and private sector pay levels.

It would create greater pay depression in those regions and areas with higher unemployment and slower economic growth.

Areas of the North West already have both the lowest overall wages and the highest unemployment across the country

Pay freezes and cuts are part of this Government’s agenda to transfer private sector debt and market excess onto the public sector – and make working people, OUR people, pay for the banking failure.

The TUC recently published a paper on regional pay bargaining in the public sector.

It states – “reducing public sector wages in struggling areas would be certain to lead to fewer jobs, as a further fall in consumer spending would drive more private sector enterprises out of business.

Despite the constant demonisation of public sector workers a poll carried out for UNISON by SURVATION showed that twice as many people think the Government’s proposals for public sector pay are unfair compared to fair.

Here is one further reference on this subject . The New Economics Foundation has carried out some research and polling that drew an interesting conclusion:

That pay should reflect social usefulness. And the social value of a school or a hospital cleaner is greater than that of a banker.

Our Branch moved a motion at this years UNISON Conference calling on our union to consult members through regions and service groups on taking action to break the public sector pay freeze.

This was overwhelmingly agreed.

The consultation exercise carried out in Local Government showed the large majority of members taking part in the consultation supported the proposal that members be asked to take action to oppose a further two years pay freeze / a cap of just 1% following the three year pay freeze.

Our members have lost approximately 15 % in earnings over the last 3 years taking into account inflation during that period.

A further 2 years of pay freezes will mean our members real spending power could be cut by 20 – 25%.

Manchester UNISON will be campaigning on this issue with all our members.

We need to recruit as many members as possible to ensure we are at our strongest so we can deliver the most effective challenge to the pay freeze.

All non trade union members need to be asked to join to ensure we have the strength and unity to defeat this pay freeze.

Members are understandably concerned about keeping their jobs as a priority in recent years and as a result pay has not always been the main priority for many members.

But our members and their families literally cannot afford year after year of effective pay cuts whilst inflation destroys their spending power.

Branch Officers will put this policy to our Branch Executive and if agreed organise a city wide stewards meeting to raise this issue with every member and encourage a campaign with our members to make pay a priority.

Enough is enough.

We’ve passed motions, we’ve consulted members, now is the time to actively encourage all our members to understand and support the need to be prepared to take action in order to stop the constant cuts in our pay.

Pat McDonagh
Branch Secretary

Manchester UNISON

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