After seven years of Tory-led government, real-terms wage cuts to public sector workers – nurses, teaching assistants and council employees among them – should translate into a ballot box backlash on June 8, with Croydon Central’s Conservative MP Gavin Barwell among the most vulnerable to losing their seats, according to research conducted by one of the country’s largest trades unions.
The GMB union reckons that there could be as many as 12,800 public service workers living in Barwell’s constituency, and if they were all to turn out to vote, they could help to overturn the career politicians slender 165-vote majority from the last General Election.
“Enough is enough,” Tim Roache, the GMB’s general secretary, said this week. “Public sector workers keep the country going and they urgently need real pay rises.
“We’re putting Conservative MPs on notice – if they don’t deliver for their public sector constituents, then they could be out of the door.”
Barwell is fifth on the GMB union hit list of Tory MPs who it says could be unseated on June 8 if public sector workers all turn ut and vote in a concerted manner.
In total 85 Conservative MPs have more public sector workers in their constituencies than the size of their majorities; which if they were all to lose their seats would be more than enough to overturn the government of the unelected Prime Minister, Theresa Mayhem.
Her government’s policy is to impose a 1 per cent cap on public sector pay until 2020, continuing the wage freezes and caps that have been in place since 2010.
The GMB’s research shows that public sector workers are facing a squeeze on their wages that is even more severe than they did under Thatcher.
There have even been reports from around the country that some under-paid nurses are struggling to make ends meet so much that they are being forced to join the growing numbers of people using of food banks every week.
According to GMB figures, an average midwife will see their inflation-adjusted income reduced by £22,000 per year by 2020 from the levels they were being paid in 2010, before the Tories took control at Westminster. For a 999 call handler, that reduction in real-terms income over the decade will be £11,263 per year. For a catering assistant, working on school dinners or in a hospital kitchen, that reduction in income will amount to £6,412.
Meanwhile, against the background of Tory “austerity” for some of the poorest paid public sector workers, since 2010, Barwell and other Conservative MPs have voted themselves pay rises which have seen a backbenchers’ salary go from £65,738 to £74,000. Cushty.
“It’s total hypocrisy for Theresa May to talk about helping people who are ‘just about managing’ whilst denying fair pay rises to over 5 million public sector workers,” Roache said.
“Her Scrooge-like policy is even worse than under Thatcher and Major, when public services were run into the ground. This is not only bad for people like our school staff, emergency service staff and council employees who are the unsung heroes of the British economy – but it is also bad for the people who use these vital services.
“Conservative MPs need to realise that public sector workers have more votes than the shareholders of big business – or they could pay the price at the ballot box.”
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