UK Politics

Why not volunteer to restrain pay?

Given the level of national debt, and the fact that public services and jobs are at threat, why aren’t unions volunteering to restrain wages (with the exception of the lowest paid) to express solidarity with the rest of society? It would at least provide an example to the bankers. Instead, there’s the entirely predictable response and child-like cry of “It’s not fair!”. As my father used to say “It’s not fair til’ Easter”:

Unison, which has threatened to withdraw financial backing from Labour MPs who do not promote its values at the next election, said its members would react with “fury” to the announcement.

“I am not going to sign up to this,” said Mr Prentis.

“I know how our members feel – they feel angry and betrayed. It is just not on to make nurses, social workers, dinner ladies, cleaners and hospital porters pay the price for the folly of the bankers.”

The move would have a damaging knock-on effect on the economy, he said, curbing the amount people spend.

Tax experts said the pay cap amounted to a real-terms cut in pay.

“The chancellor’s policy of protecting ‘front-line public services’ comes with a hefty price for public sector workers,” said Alan Downey, head of public sector at accountants KPMG.

Many public sector workers will be asking themselves whether it might be preferable to cut front-line services so that their pain is shared to some degree with the recipients of benefits and services.

I’d like to think that last statement is untrue. The public sector surely exists to serve the public, not the people who work within it.