Green councillors have expressed their support for public sector staff on strike today (July 10th) in defence of pay.
Local government staff and school support staff have been subject to a three-year pay freeze and had now been offered a 1% pay rise. The TUC points out that local government staff will have experienced a real terms pay cut of 18% by the end of 2014.
The majority of local government staff are low-paid – earning under £21,000, with a disproportionate number of women affected.
Councillor Ollie Sykes, Lead Member for Finance and Resources, said:
“Public sector workers are doing vital jobs providing the services we all use. The government has already cut the money councils use to run services, but they’re also squeezing staff pay at a time of rising living costs. It’s an undignified assault on the lives of care workers, firefighters and librarians – penalising them for problems they did not cause.
“We’re seeing demand for public services increasing year on year, but the government continues to hit staff pay and morale, across the public sector.
“Greens stand shoulder to shoulder with public sector workers fighting against this Government raid. Nobody wants services to be disrupted, but the Government has left staff with little option.”
Councillor Christopher Hawtree, Deputy Chair of Economic Development & Culture Committee, said: “Our local public sector workers are the people who keep our communities running. That our workforce should have their pay cut and frozen for years on end is a scandal. That a raise is unaffordable is a myth. It is affordable, it is do-able and it is the right thing to do. That’s why I’m supporting Thursday’s strike in Hove and Brighton.
“My life has always been immeasurably improved by people who choose, often at some cost to themselves, to work in the public sector. Without such people’s hard work, the country could not function. Their great worth should be recognised – not sidelined.”
Caroline Lucas MP for Brighton Pavilion joined public sector workers at the rally to voice her support:
“It is very clear that austerity isn’t working. People are struggling with poverty pay, the cost of living is rising and it’s time the Government recognised the immense value of all the workers who provide us with crucial services every single day. Strike action is the option of last resort, and the decision to take part will not have been taken lightly. But the public sector in the UK has, for decades, been systematically attacked. Workers are bearing the brunt of this, and are being expected to pay the price for an economic crisis not of their making.”