Britain Needs A Pay-Rise!

Getting up at 5 a.m. for a 6. 30 train to London wasn’t necessarily the most wonderful of britain-needs-a-pay-riseprospects on the third Saturday in October, when after all ~I could have been looking forward to watching Newcastle at home to Leicester. Or at least asleep. However, as is always the case, once the  alarm had gone off and I had got up and had some breakfast – with plenty of coffee – then it didn’t seem so bad after all. So it was that I ended up at Newcastle Central Station, meeting up with members of Gateshead NUT and others from the trade union movement as we boarded the train to London to take part in the TUC March: Britain Needs A Pay-Rise!

Having assembled as usual on the Embankment, by the banks of the River Thames, within sight of the gilded towers of the twin bastions of power in this land, the Banking and Financial Sector just downstream and the Houses of Parliament upstream, we set off on time at 12 noon, on our way to Hyde Park.

I had the great honour of being one of those who carried the NUT banner at the head of the NUT section of the march as we made our way through the streets of London to Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus and finally to Hyde Park Corner. The march looked a respectable size, if not huge and there seemed to be plenty of supporters along the way.

The most lively part of the march came when members of Uncut UK made everyone aware, just when we were passing a shop belonging to a corporation who don’t pay all their taxes. So it was as we passed the likes of Fortnum and Mason, Starbucks, Caffe Nero and Tesco, which soon became easy to spot by the police presence outside. But wait a minute, aren’t the police paid by tax revenue…..and won’t  their jobs be at stake if these ridiculously wealthy corporations pay the right amount of tax? Didn’t somebody once say that we were, “all in it together”?

At Hyde Park, we found the NUT stall where more of the Manifestos for Education were being handed out on top of the hundreds handed out en route. On a large stage there were speakers and musicians performing.

It is easy to question how worthwhile marches such as these are, but I think that this march was undoubtedly worth it. For once it seemed to gain some coverage on the BBC and other media outlets and so the issue of the public sector pay feeze and low-pay in general, at least for a day or two, took over from obsessions with immigration and the EU.

That was seen as being even more important as a few days later an important economic report was published, which confirmed two things many of us have thought all along. Firstly, the economic recovery is for the vast majority of the people of Britian a phantom recovery; they are simplt not seeing it. It was also reported that low-pay was found across the country regardless of different levels of immigration in different locations Low pay is a direct result of the government’s disastrous austerity policies and we all should be aware of where the blame lies.

It was also noted in the week following the march. that economic growth had slowed to 0.7% in the three months to September. Given that pay is deliberately being left stagnant and low, is this any wonder? How can the recovery be meaningful, if millions of people are not seeing any increase in their spending power?

Public Sector workers must keep fighting along with their colleagues in other public sector unions. They are the people who teach the children, nurse the sick and put out the fires. They are the people who do most of the important jobs in this country…and they deserve so much better.

So a worthwhile day out even if I did miss our first win of the season. And after all there will be others, won’t there?

© Peter Sagar October 2014