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22 November 2020

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Public sector workers must not pay for the Covid crisis

The Socialist Party website - along with other media - has received the below press release from the campaign 'Hugo Pierre for Unison General Secretary' [email protected]

For a fighting, democratic Unison general secretary on a worker's wage

Candidate in Unison general secretary election says public sector workers must not pay for the Covid crisis and calls for strike action to fight the pay freeze.

National executive member and candidate for the Unison general secretary, Hugo Pierre, demands that public sector unions unite to fight the expected three-year pay freeze announcement next week for 4.5 million workers.

Mr Pierre is standing in the election on the slogan of "Public sector workers must not be made to pay for the Covid crisis".

Hugo Pierre says: "In the week it has been exposed that Tory-supporting profiteers have made millions out of Covid, in the week when Boris Johnson has announced 15 billion to pay for 'swarms of drones and directed energy weapons', it is beyond belief that those workers who have been saving lives, and who have risked their lives in care home and schools, are told their reward is to see their pay frozen for the next three years.

"This will be greeted with despair and anger by millions of workers and the trade union leaders have a duty to lead a fight in defense of their members".

The expected pay freeze, that would save 23 billion, comes on top of nearly a decade of pay restraint that has already seen the living standards of public sector workers fall by 20% and reneges on the government's election promise to end austerity.

Hugo Pierre demands "an immediate meeting of the leaderships of the public sector unions to plan a campaign of action, including coordinated strike action, to fight the proposals.

"I call on the Unison leadership to take a lead, right now. Organise protests and call for all unions to come together in a national day of action on the first Saturday after lockdown, 5th December, to loudly declare we will fight this pay freeze."

The Tories' hope is that given the plight of private sector workers losing jobs and facing pay cuts that there will be no sympathy for public sector workers. However, in response, Hugo Pierre says: "What sort of message is it (in anti-bullying week of all weeks) to respond to big business giving its workers a good kicking by saying don't worry we will kick our workers too!"


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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

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Article dated 22 November 2020

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Thurrock council workers striking against pay cuts, photo by Dave Murray

Thurrock council workers striking against pay cuts, photo Dave Murray

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