MP: Why I’d back strikers
OUTSPOKEN Labour MP Laura Pidcock has promised to back strike action by struggling public sector workers if they are not given a decent pay rise.
North West Durham MP Ms Pidcock spoke out as MPs heard pay cuts have led to staff shortages in hospitals, schools and town halls.
Pay for many public sector staff was frozen between 2010 and 2012 and then increased by just 1% a year after that, which was a cut in real terms while inflation was higher than 1%.
Chancellor Phillip Hammond suggested in his Budget statement last month the pay cap would be scrapped, although future pay rises have not yet been announced.
But Ms Pidcock said she would back strike action if their pay was not increased.
“Public sector workers need an above-inflation pay rise as part of a properly funded settlement.
“If it is not properly funded, public sector workers know this, the cuts will just continue through redundancies.
“If public sector workers do not get that pay rise, I will support them in whatever industrial action they take.
“If withdrawing their labour is all they can do to get this Government to see reason, they have my support.”
And she pointed out that MPs had enjoyed a 10% pay rise in 2016, following a decision made in 2015.
She said: “The inequality between this place and the rest of the public services has been mentioned.
“How can it be right that Members awarded themselves a 10% pay rise in 2015 while most public sector workers’ pay was capped at 1%?
“People really feel that there is one rule for us in this place and another for all the rest.
“I genuinely do not think that Government Members can claim that they support or value our public services while they suppress workers’ wages.”
She was speaking in a Commons debate as a number of MPs demanded pay rises for public sector workers.
North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon said pay for local government workers had fallen in real terms by 21%, more than a fifth, since 2010.
And one result of this was that there was a shortage of people who wanted to work in the public sector.
She urged the Government “to show due respect and appreciation for all public sector workers. Pay up now and end the public sector pay cap across the board.”
Blaydon MP Liz Twist said: “It is no wonder there are recruitment and retention problems in the NHS and elsewhere in the public sector. “In the NHS, demand has gone up, but staff continue to work to make sure patients are looked after.”
Treasury Minister Andrew Jones told MPs pay rises had been limited as part of efforts to cut the national deficit. He said: “It is fair to remind the House that in 2010 we inherited the biggest deficit in our peacetime history. “There was an urgent need to get public spending under some control, and that has been a key ingredient in returning our economy to health.
“The coalition Government implemented a two-year pay freeze, which has been mentioned several times by Members during the debate, but I remind the Labour party gently that it supported that policy at the time.
“The pay freeze was followed by a series of 1% pay awards for public sector workers.
“In the autumn Budget the Chancellor reconfirmed that under this Conservative Government the policy would end.”
People really feel that there is one rule for us in this place and another for all the rest Labour MP Laura Pidcock
Fiery Labour MP Laura Pidcock