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3 March 2021

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Public sector workers respond to the budget

Demanding a 15% pay rise for NHS workers, 8th August 2020

Demanding a 15% pay rise for NHS workers, 8th August 2020   (Click to enlarge)

Where is the money for council services?

"The financial outlook is volatile." This (under)statement, in Essex County Council's budget document for 2021, could be the strapline for the future of all local government services.

Last year, Rishi Sunak did what government ministers do in a crisis. He praised the emergency services and 'pledged' a sum of money with lots of noughts on the end.

Councils were told to set up community hubs, deliver food and medication to people shielding, organise test-and-trace support payments, and accommodate all rough sleepers. Councils, already on their knees from years of cuts, but most are yet to see any of the promised additional funds.

Sunak's short-term Covid funding, far from being 'whatever it takes', falls way short of what councils need long term. This year, financial pressures have been compounded by councils losing their usual income from council tax, car parking, business rates due to lockdown measures, and people struggling financially.

Some, like Essex County Council in my area, are dipping into their reserves in order to 'balance the budget' this year. But this still means cuts.

Local government trade unions need to lead a fight to defend jobs, terms and conditions at work, and vital services, and only support councillors who take a stand against cuts.

Eleanor Donne, Unison Basildon local government branch committee (personal capacity)

The chief executive of the local authority that I work for wrote to staff last year to tell us that the in the future the council "will be a smaller, more streamlined organisation", due to financial restraints caused by the pandemic.

My local authority has a 6 million funding gap between the costs incurred during the pandemic and the Tory government shortfall to cover this. Councils up and down the country are affected similarly. Rishi Sunak's budget has not bridged this Covid-19 shortfall.

While adapting my usual job to delivering food supplies to the shielding community during the first lockdown, I came across many homes that had been converted into multiple one-room residences. When I commented on this to a senior council executive, they admitted that they aren't in a position to offer these people suitable accommodation.

Short-term staff contracts aren't generally being extended, including in already short-staffed services. This will lead to even higher workloads and stress for remaining staff, and a worse service provided to the public.

John Dolan, Haringey Unison social care co-convenor (personal capacity)

Why no NHS pay rise?

It comes as no surprise that NHS pay has been missed out of the budget by Rishi Sunak. The unions have submitted their claims to the Pay Review Body. With pressure from below by grassroots campaign NHS Pay 15, Unite and GMB support a 15% pay rise, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) 12.5% and Unison 2,000.

But the Pay Review Body announcement has been delayed until May. Rishi Sunak claims he is waiting for that, but he is hiding behind the timing of it. If the Tories had any intention about addressing patient safety, protecting the NHS and investing in staff, they would have prioritised a pay rise way earlier.

The whole process with the Pay Review Body constitutes an additional layer of bureaucracy in national pay negotiations. It puts a 'middle man' between the government and unions.

The unions have been calling for the government to bring pay talks forward for months. We know poor pay in the NHS is having a direct impact on patient care, due to a chronic shortage of staff.

The government has had plenty of opportunity to invest in the pay rise that exhausted and hardworking staff deserve. In real terms, health workers have had a pay cut of 15%-20% over the last decade.

If restoring our pay isn't prioritised, more staff will leave. Surveys show that as many as one in three are thinking about leaving the NHS due to poor pay and working conditions.

We must be organised, and ready to ballot for industrial action. It is predicted that the government will suggest a pay 'rise' between one and 3.5%. We must be ready to reject this.

Holly Johnston, Nursing sister in oncology (personal capacity)

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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.

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In The Socialist 3 March 2021:


Budget

Not a budget for the working class!

Public sector workers respond to the budget


News

President of 'big four' Labour-affiliated trade union joins TUSC committee

Women's health matters


International Women's Day

A fighting programme for women's rights and socialism

A history of International Women's Day


What we think

Liverpool Labour meltdown - Fight for socialist policies


School safety

Schools' safety - teachers demand fighting union strategy


Features

'Casino capitalism' - driving another potential financial Armageddon

1981: New Cross Massacre


Workplace

Bus workers under attack and fighting back

Manchester indefinite bus strike against 'fire and rehire'

HMRC: Pay deal agreed but at what cost?

British Gas strike

Sparks force bosses back but fight continues to stamp out deskilling

Reinstate victimised bus driver Declan Clune

RAF Leeming strike escalates

Tech workers walk out against 'fire and rehire'

Victory for Judith, defend Moe


Campaigns

Why we need socialists in London city hall

Socialist Students conference

Swansea BLM protest against racist police brutality

Union fight to save musicians' livelihoods

Labour surrenders to Tories in Devon

Determined to smash the fighting fund target to fuel election challenge in May


 

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Related links:

Budget:

triangleReaders' comments

triangleTUSC calls for local 'People's Budget' campaigns

triangleHands off our NHS

triangleRich pickings for private companies - peanuts for health workers

triangleWe need a fighting strategy to win funding from the government - why I'm standing for TUSC

Workers:

triangleTory government nationalises Sheffield steel plant

triangleIsrael: Hospital ancillary workers' strike suspended

triangleIn brief: News, reports & analysis from the CWI

triangleFight Freeports to stop bonfire of workers' rights

Public sector:

triangleUnite to fight Tory pay insults

triangleNew left NEC meets - Organise the fight back now

trianglePublic sector pay - Prepare for action!

Pay:

triangleTower Hamlets Labour backs Tory cuts

triangleBexley bin workers strike for better pay

Government:

triangleTories and Labour fail on child poverty

Council:

triangleBarnsley 'Big Green Space' protest

NHS:

triangleReaders' comments

Unions:

triangleLGBTQ+ workers' charter

Cuts:

triangleTory cuts worsened crime and Johnson 'blitz' won't help

Article dated 3 March 2021

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