Jim McFarlane, Unison NEC member and local government worker (personal capacity)
Since the start of the global financial crisis, workers’ real wages and living standards in the UK have suffered to an extent unprecedented in modern history.
Real wages have fallen by nearly 10% since 2008. The explosion of what is described as “in work poverty” has seen millions of people struggling on a day to basis to keep their head above water.
This vicious Tory Government are showing no sign of reversing the austerity agenda that has plunged so many into severe financial hardship. Public sector jobs and services have been decimated and the attacks on the meagre welfare system has made the situation even worse.
The Scottish Government and local councils are doing their own part in imposing the pay cap year-on-year. Playing pass-the-parcel with Tory austerity is not good enough from SNP and Labour politicians.
However, austerity isn’t for everyone. The already powerful and wealthy in society have seen their share of the wealth rocket. Figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal the average gross salary in Scotland is £22,918 a year.
The top Chief Executives in Scotland are coming out with pay packets worth more than 24 times the salary of an average worker. The highest paid CEO in Scotland was Ross McEwan at the Royal Bank of Scotland who made £3.5 million last year, despite the bank making a loss of £7 billion.
His pay is the equivalent of 152 workers on average earnings. This is not inevitable, there is a clear alternative. Workers deserve a decent pay rise. Smashing the pay cap and reversing the welfare attacks has to be one of the main priority of the trade union movement and the wider working class.
The demonstration called by UNISON in Edinburgh on 7th October should be the launch pad for a sustained period of industrial action.
Trade unions can not only smash the 1% pay cap across the public sector and indeed the private sector, but also win decent pay for all and bring an end to austerity.