The “mini-budget” announced on Friday 23rd September showed this Tory Government for what they are: a government for the rich and wealthy. One that will prioritise big-business and their profits, at the expense of the working class. They have openly declared class war!
While removing caps for the rich and lowering tax burdens on the wealthiest, the budget will do nothing to help those already struggling to put food on the table or pay their bills, rather it will drive millions deeper into poverty.
Our members, like other workers, are facing the steepest drop in living standards in generations. While our pay is ideologically suppressed, the general cost of everyday living soars. This latest budget from the new Chancellor will do nothing to help those workers facing an economic crisis, while enhancing the profits of the highest earners.
For years successive governments have said our members can’t have inflation proofed pay rises because of how it will look. Now we can’t have a cost of living pay increase because they claim it will raise inflation. Our members will see that for the lie it is, as other workers have throughout the summer. Inflation is already at a 40-year high with wages deliberately held low; it is clearly not wage rises that has seen inflation spike.
In addition to the real terms, 10% plus pay cut imposed on our members this year, the Tories are also making public sector workers pay 2% more every month for their pensions based on government’s own forecast. This equates to a further 2% real terms pay cut and could be refunded to workers overnight, but they refuse to do so; instead choosing to offset it against their legal costs incurred when our union defeated them in the High Court.
PCS members have been telling us in their thousands of the struggles they face on a daily basis. Many having to claim benefits to make ends meet, skip meals, or take out high interest loans to pay for essentials such as food or pay bills. This will be a similar story across society, with entire communities struggling to make ends meet. Low paid workers, the sick and disabled, the vulnerable in society being thrown to the wolves while the Tories feather the nests of their own ahead of the next General Election.
Civil Service jobs targeted
If the cost of living crisis wasn’t enough, vital public services are coming under increasing strain, and with the prospect of over 90,000 job cuts in the Civil Service, they will be paralysed.
Already the government have tightened rules on benefit, with plans to make 114,000 additional claimants subject to a harsher regime to prove their eligibility for Universal Credit, while increasing the pressure on our members in DWP to impose conditionality and sanctions on existing claimants – including thousands of government workers.
If these job cuts are rolled out the devastation that will cause to the public cannot be overstated and tens of thousands of our members will face uncertain futures.
The pandemic showed the country the importance of the work our members do, yet just when the public need for those services grows the Tories will seek to play-off the public sector against private. Once again the real losers will be our class, worker and unemployed worker alike.
Fighting back is not optional
We have seen throughout the summer the inspirational fightback from workers across various sectors, including public transport, Royal Mail, universities and colleges.
Our own members in workplaces such as HGS – in the Disability and Barring Service – have taken 12 days of strike action over low pay and working conditions, while their private sector bosses creamed from the top and claimed record profits.
The mood has changed. Workers everywhere have realised now is the time to fight back and have been doing so.
For the next six weeks PCS members nationally have our opportunity to join that fight and it is one we must take.
The Tories are already doubling down on anti-trade union legislation, as they see workers demand better from the government and employers alike.
The moment for PCS members is now, to break through that 50% threshold and send a clear message – we have had enough of pay cut after pay cut; we have had enough of carrying a disproportionate burden at time of economic crisis; we have had enough of always having to carry the can for financial and ideological failures.
From the 26th September to the 7th November we all have one absolute priority. Ensure we have given PCS our upto date details and to vote in the ballot for better pay, pensions justice, job security, and to defend our redundancy terms.
The conditions for our members to hand an overwhelming mandate to our union have never been better. We must now collectively deliver that mandate and make the government and our respective employers sit up and take notice. A failure to do so would be disastrous for our members and the public we serve. The benefits of doing so would give real power to our union, and help us deliver improvements to our members living standards and working conditions.
The stakes could not be higher!
VOTE YES IN THE NATIONAL BALLOT
Martin Cavanagh, PCS Deputy President (pc)