Why public service employers should Pay Up Now!

The first two weeks of October saw UNISON branches across the region organise events to promote the work they do locally and to call for an end to the government’s pay cap. This cap means that the average public sector worker has seen a pay increase of just 4.4% between 2010-2016 – in real terms, a huge pay cut.

We asked some of our members why the Pay Up Now! campaign and fair pay is so important.

Can you give me an example of where real-world pay cuts have impacted on you or a member?

I have seen members struggling with difficult financial situations as their cost of living increases but their wages decrease in real terms. – Gary Beechano, Hampshire Health Branch.

Increased financial pressure is restricting the ability to live in any comfort from day to day. – Chris Steel, UNISON Portsmouth Health Branch.

Members have nearly lost their rented accommodation because they can’t afford the rent. Many can’t go on a holiday of any sort. – Jon Woods, UNISON Portsmouth City Branch.

What message do you have for Teresa May about the public sector pay cap?

Mrs May, you need to spend time working alongside the people whom you are disadvantaging. You need to see their passion and commitment that still continues despite their financial woes…. – Kerensa Smith, UNISON Portsmouth City Branch.

Please, let me work for a wage that enables me to have the dignity of being able to put a roof over my head. – Kevin Dacombe, UNISON Hampshire Branch.

Public sector workers provide services for the most vulnerable members of our society so why should we still suffer from a pay cut? – Cathy Roblin, UNISON Southampton District Branch.

How do employers you work with feel about the pay cap?

Staff retention is a problem – many of our best and most experienced staff have left for less austere work elsewhere. Mainly, though, the employer is simply investing the surplus made by reduced wages of the many back into wage increases for the few wealthy wage earners at the top. – Adrian Dolby, UNISON University of Southampton Branch.

Staff Retention is a massive problem for local government at the moment due to the increased financial pressures on councils to cut spending. This basically means we are constantly losing members of staff through redundancies and… increased stress… Very few jobs are replaced and many people are completing the workload of 3-4 people with ever increasing pressures from the struggling members of the public. – Chelsie Wheelright, UNISON Gosport Branch.

If a UNISON member asked you why the Pay up Now! campaign was important, what would you say?

We are not asking to be showered with riches, simply for our very important work to pay us enough to live without the worry of financial ruin hanging over us. – Jeremy Bunnett, UNISON Hampshire Branch.

Because we are worth it! Ask your elderly parents, children or think of what help you hope to have if you become unwell or have an emergency: are we really just an added bonus? I don’t think so. – Natalie Bale, UNISON Hampshire Branch.

For more information on the Pay Up Now! campaign visit the UNISON website.