GMB union politics Carer pay

Poverty kills. It destroys people, physically and mentally, causing depression among ordinary folk just trying to live a decent life.

29 July 2020

GMB union regional political officer, Neil Smith, says it is disgraceful that the government can ''watch us clapping, but no pay rise for many of our heroes''.

The sheer hypocrisy of this government knows no bounds. Their latest attempt at shocking most sensible, caring people in this country took everyone by surprise - or maybe it didn’t surprise as much as shock. Not to guarantee a decent pay rise for workers in the NHS and care services - who are paid by local authorities - is disgraceful. Obviously we welcome the decision to give an increase to doctors, police, teachers and other public servants in England. However for the Treasury not to set money aside for the very people who were given collective thanks in the form of the public (and politicians) standing in the streets and clapping until their hands turned red is more than shoddy.

It is disreputable, whatever reputation this obnoxious Government still have, it is shameful for the country and unworthy of the respect the caring heroes of NHS and care homes rightly get and deserve.
It has been said by many people since the announcement last week that this is a stab in the back for these wonderful, deserving people and their families who have faced and continue to face the serious concerns of how infectious COVID-19 is to people, particularly at the sharp end where the most vulnerable are.

Many of our members in the NHS said they appreciated the applause at the time but at the right time wanted it to stop and replaced with the delivery of a decent pay rise. They knew it and saw it coming.

A week on and I can I can say the surprise most people had was related to the hypocrisy, not the fact that the Tories are taking food out of the mouths of the low paid, hard working people working in care homes and hospitals.

There are nurses and care workers in this country who can’t afford to live on their meagre salaries. There has been a shocking increase in the number of nurses who have taken their own lives in the last 2 years. Poverty kills. It destroys people, physically and mentally, causing depression among ordinary folk just trying to live a decent life. But for Boris Johnson to have the audacity to tell people to get out and clap for the heroes only last month, it is offensive and dishonourable to witness the actions of the UK Prime Minister in what can only be described as a typical Tory move. “Look over here while we clap and when you look back your pay rise has been ignored.” The food has been taken from the mouths of your children while you are knocking your pan in and endangering your lives in the face of this deadly pandemic, but don’t dare ask for a pay rise.

Scandalously, low pay is rife and the underpayment of the minimum wage is a widespread problem. Nearly 1 million people in this country received less than the legal level at the start of the last financial year. The government must end its shocking complacency on this issue and step up its enforcement of the national minimum wage to give workers the dignity and respect they need and deserve. We know redundancies are coming because of the pandemic and people are afraid of losing their jobs but the unions must still campaign, on the industrial and political front to demand better pay and conditions even while we fight to retain jobs.

Neil Smith
Political Officer
GMB North West & Irish Region

GMB North West & Irish Region