Last night I told an SNP party fringe meeting about one of your employees, a Scottish Govt worker that called the PCS office recently in distress. She asked if she could suspend her subs for one month in order to pay for a power card. Of course, she was directed to the union’s hardship fund for support, but her story is most shocking not because it is one of abjet poverty, but because it resonates across the public sector. This is what it means to be just about managing in 2017 Scotland under your pay policy.
All public sector workers are in it together after seven years of wages squeezed, capped and cut by successive UK and Scottish government policies.
Counter to public perceptions, most civil and public servants are not pinstriped bowler hatted Whitehall clones or even the high flyers buzzing around you and other Scottish Ministers in St Andrews House. The average PCS member is a woman in her 40s in a delivery processing job in tax or benefits.Under Scottish Ministers pay policy, even with the Scottish Living Wage, salary starts at £16,310 per year. More likely to be dressed by Primark than Saville Row pinstripe. Those unlucky enough to work in the culture sector – our prestigious national galleries and museums where 27 hour weeks are King, earnings can be less than £15,000.
It’s bad enough that workers under your watch have had pay held down below inflation for seven years. On top of that they have paid increased national insurance contributions; twice had their redundancy rights cut and imposed pensions changes – people now work longer for less. Not all your fault, we know.
But for all of these reasons we demand an to end austerity pay. This is why PCS is balloting all its members from 9 October to 6 November. It is time to Scrap the cap – all public sector workers deserve a pay rise – now!
The nuances of whether Scottish or UK govt policy is to blame is of little concern to the workers when they need a power card or just find there is too much month at the end of the money because inflation is at 3.9% and rising. Real terms pay has eroded by 20% and if it continues as planned until 2021 by the Tories then our members in the Scottish Government and elsewhere will be up to £3000 worse off than they were in 2010.
PCS members however are not alone, Derek. There is a growing mood access the public sector not seen since the 2011 pensions dispute. Thousands of Unison health workers marched in Edinburgh on 7 October to demand fair pay. The TUC policy unanimously agreed at Congress last month is to demand a 5% rise for all public sector workers. The STUC are organising public sector combines across Scotland as part of the fightback.
The Tories however in singling out Fire, police, prison officers, are displaying divide and rule tactics. But public sector workers won’t be picked off – all are valuable & all all deserve a pay rise.
So when you get to your feet at SNP conference today, minister, our appeal is for more than kind words. The First Minister has already said the Scottish Government will scrap the pay cap next year. But that doesn’t pay the bills for workers this winter. The UK Chancellor Philip Hammond might hold the overall purse strings driving austerity, but Scottish Ministers need to be bolder about redistributing wealth in Scotland.
And please don’t ask workers expect trade offs between pay and jobs. Not only it non-negotiable with unions, it is simply unviable. Over 100,000 civil service jobs have been cut under the Tories and yiur own government reduced by 20% the Scottish Govt workforce since coming to power.
Therefore the only solution you have as Scottish Finance Ministdr is a political solution. With a dual approach to invest in public services and restore pay fairness, the Scottish Government must do more than plea to the UK more money. you need to commit now to using its tax powers to redistribute wealth .
While you and the UK Chancellor prepare your Budgets this Autumn, PCS is consulting our members through ballot on their readiness to take action on pay. And we expect that other unions will follow suit.
We look forward to hearing from you,