Guest column: Give public sector workers the pay rise they deserve now

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

I believe a pay rise for all public sector workers, both in my constituency and across the country, is fair and affordable.

Public sector workers have been subject to years of falling real wages and I do not believe that this is sustainable.

A report published by the Office of Manpower Economics in July found that real earnings have fallen since 2010 and remained below their 2005 level in 2015.

The report states that the decline in earnings from 2010 coincides with the wage freeze imposed on public sector pay settlements by the Government in 2011-to-2013 and the average one per cent rise in 2014-15.

In September, the Government announced a partial lift of the one per cent pay cap for police and prison officers.

This will come as cold comfort for other public sector workers who have been ignored.

Furthermore, with inflation now at 2.9 per cent, the reality is that the Government is still going ahead with a pay cut in real terms for police and prison officers.

At the General Election, I stood on a manifesto that pledged to end the pay cap in the public sector.

I also supported an opposition amendment in the House of Commons which called on the Government to give public sector workers a fair pay rise.

Unfortunately, the Government voted against the amendment and it was defeated.

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.

This week also saw the release of the ‘paradise papers’ which detailed the lengths that the super-rich will go to avoid paying their fair share.

These deeply worrying revelations are further proof, in my view, that this Conservative Government has completely failed to take the action required on the scandal of tax avoidance.

I believe hardworking taxpayers are being let down by the Conservatives who only last week voted down Labour’s amendments to the Finance Bill to tackle the scandal of tax evasion and avoidance. In my opinion the Tories continue to deprive our schools, hospitals and public services of the funding they desperately need while refusing to take the required action to end the scourge of tax avoidance and evasion by the super-rich.

Only a Labour Government will bear down on this scandal and take the action required to build an economy which works for the many and the not the elite few.