Guest column: Pay rise for public sector workers would be fair and deserved

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

I believe a pay rise for nurses, paramedics, police officers, firefighters all public sector workers across the country is fair and affordable.

Public sector workers have been subject to years of falling real wages.

I do not believe that the Government’s policy of a one per cent pay cap on public sector wages is sustainable.

The large number of letters and emails I have received on this issue highlights the strength of public concern.

Indeed, an online petition calling on the Government to end the public sector pay cap has been signed by more than 130,000 people.

The previous coalition Government imposed a two-year pay freeze on public sector workers in 2011, and as you are aware, in 2015 the Government announced a maximum pay increase of one per cent in public sector pay until 2019-20.

In June I supported an opposition amendment in the debate on the Queen’s Speech which called on the Government to end the public sector pay cap.

Unfortunately, it was defeated.

The Chancellor should write formally to the pay review bodies to say that they are now free to do what is right by public servants and give them a fair pay award this year.

I can assure you I will continue to press the Government to lift the pay cap so that public sector workers are paid at a level which recognises the skill and dedication they bring to their jobs. 

The Labour Party supports a full, Hillsborough-style public inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal.

It is time that the facts were made available to the families of the victims after their long battle for justice.

There are a number of recent allegations about the conduct of public officials and the treatment of the victims which need to be addressed.

The victims and their families have suffered for too long and the Government should provide every possible support to them in their quest for truth.

It is more than 45 years since the first people were infected with HIV, hepatitis C and other viruses from NHS-supplied blood products.

Their lives, and those of their families, were changed forever by this tragedy.

The latest estimates suggest that the scandal has taken the lives of at least 2,400 people.

There are still unanswered questions about the history of how it happened.

Those affected deserve an honest account from the Government, yet we haven’t ever had a proper public inquiry into the tragedy.

The Government has a fundamental duty to support those affected in getting the answers they need and I welcome the fact that they are taking steps towards a full inquiry.