It’s time to end the public-sector pay cap and invest in our public services, says DANIELLE TIPLADY
My eyes filled with tears and my mind full of anger while watching Dispatches this week.
A nurse, a policewomen and a firefighter all bravely and eloquently spoke out about the devastating effect the Tory-imposed public-sector pay cap has had on their lives.
The pay cap has not only affected people financially, it has had a psychological effect too. On Dispatches we observed a nurse in tears because she and her family are struggling so much they skip meals regularly and a policewoman at breaking point due to being homeless with her 16-year-old son.
People have had their dignity stripped away as they search for ways to make ends meet in seven years of austerity. We saw a firefighter who stated he had times in certain months when his bank card was declined while buying food for his family as his wage simply does not cover his monthly bills.
With this happening all over the country, it’s really not hard to understand how public-sector workers simply do not feel valued any more.
Ministers in this Tory government should be ashamed of themselves. We are suffering under austerity yet we live in the fifth-richest economy in the world.
The government always has money for war and its own expenses, yet we get told there is “no magic money tree.” These Tory soundbites do not tally with the facts, as the party’s deal with the DUP to cling onto power showed.
The question this country needs to ask itself is not “can we afford to lift the cap?” but “can we afford not to lift the cap?” With workers leaving the public sector in droves, for how long will we have any public services left?
I became a nurse over a year ago and it has been challenging. I first worked in the community and very much enjoyed the job of facilitating people to stay in their own homes and the relationship you build with them. I rather naively thought I would be able to buy a car. How wrong I was!
Every day I walked for miles and it was not long before I knew I could not take it any more, so I applied to work in the hospital.
The physical exhaustion was getting too much for me. We have a dire shortage of community nurses, so that makes me ask am I not the exact person this government should want to encourage to do the job they love?
Nurses have vast knowledge and technical skill. We critique evidence in order to provide safe and compassionate care to patients. We deserve so much better and we are worth more than the disdain this government treat us with.
Instead, seven years of paying for the banking crisis has taken its toll. With 40,000 vacancies and more nurses leaving the profession than joining, we are at crisis point.
The government recently claimed the pay cap has been lifted after pressure from the Labour Party and the trade unions. However, this cannot come at a cost of cutting other services from existing budgets and the pay rise must be above inflation. Anything below will simply be an insult.
Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour Party has stood firmly by our side during the scrap the cap campaign, forcing debates and votes in Parliament at every opportunity to help our cause.
Labour tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech to end the pay cap and the government laughed and cheered as we were voted down.
The Tories only ever treat us with contempt. Their token gestures and warm words simply will not fix this — we need to be gearing up for industrial action. The time has well and truly passed for us to strike.
We all know the pay cap is a political decision and it has to end now.
n Danielle Tiplady is a nurse, Labour Party member and NHS campaigner. She is speaking at this Saturday’s Labour Assembly Against Austerity Conference. Follow the latest at www.twitter.com/LabourAssembly and facebook.com/labourassembly.againstausterity.