Regional pay is 'in no way a done deal'
Simon Wright MP tells unions that regional pay is "by no means a done deal"
Representatives of major public-sector unions, along with Labour PPC for Norwich South Clive Lewis, met Simon Wright MP today to discuss government plans for regional pay, as well as union campaigns for fair pay and a living wage for all workers.
from left to right; Clive Lewis, Sasha Pearce, Kerry Rogers and Ivan Crane
Clive Lewis told Mr Wright that if the government went ahead with regional pay it could have a devastating effect on the Norwich economy, where workers are already on lower than average pay. Taking yet more money out of peoples’ pockets meaning they have less to spend locally would only be bad for businesses and growth in the city. It’s bad for equality and dismantling national pay bargaining would create unnecessary and costly duplication at regional and local levels. He urged Mr Wright to not just refuse to back it but to come out against it.
Kerry Rogers, a PCS member who works in the Job Centre Plus in Norwich told Mr Wright about her colleagues who are already on such low pay (despite being civil servants) that many of them have to rely on Working Tax Credits to get by. They do an incredibly difficult job delivering a front-line service to some of the neediest in our society, yet they face anger and abuse from the public on a daily basis, have had a pay freeze for over 2 years and yet now have to worry that their pay will be further eroded by a move to regional pay. If this goes ahead then the government’s benefits bill will go up which is illogical.
Sasha Pearce from UNISON told Mr Wright about skilled workers in the Health Service, the Environment Agency and Local Government who will naturally want to work where they can get the best pay for the job, which would leave areas like Norwich facing a drain of knowledge and experience to areas like Essex and London if regional pay is implemented. This would leave us with lower skilled, less experienced people teaching our children, keeping our environment safe and clean and working in our hospitals. In addition, Sasha asked Mr Wright to consider signing up to UNISON’s Living Wage campaign which asks people to support the idea that everyone in work should earn at least £7.20/hr – the level of pay identified by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as being necessary for a basic decent standard of living.
Ivan Crane from UNITE made the important point that regional pay is yet another threat to workers’ job security like the easy dismissal proposals in the Beecroft Report. None of this helps growth and recovery as people feel increasingly scared to stick up for their rights and worried about spending what money they might have.
Mr Wright responded that whilst he has not yet seen all the evidence on regional pay he thinks “it’s by no means a done deal”, and that having worked in the public sector himself as a teacher he recognises that a lot of the public services have a national rather than a local labour market. On the living wage, he said “it’s a fine aspiration”, but did not sign the pledge card he was offered.
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