LIFTING the public-sector pay cap is the best step the government can take to help Britain’s workers, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told the Star yesterday.
The head of the trade union confederation was speaking in the run-up to its annual Congress, which opens tomorrow.
“It’s not just because it’s the right thing to do. It’s because people are owed,” she said of the call to end the crippling 1 per cent pay cap.
The pay cap and an end to austerity will be key themes of the Congress.
Recent TUC research has highlighted issues such as workers skipping meals to make ends meet and being unable to pay unexpected bills because the value of their wages is falling as living costs rise.
The TUC leader pointed out that the towns and cities across Britain which are suffering the most are those dependent on public-sector jobs, adding that they have not recovered from the economic crash of 2008.
As new research published yesterday showed that women workers have been hit hardest by the recession, Ms O’Grady stressed that they have been on the front line of the casualisation of jobs as well as austerity, creating a “double whammy.”
The joint study by the universities of Salford and Sheffi eld Hallam revealed women are far likelier than men to be stuck in part-time jobs as the availability of full-time jobs has plummeted in the past nine years.
Ms O’Grady also highlighted the effect on women’s mental health of having to juggle their caring responsibilities with insecure and low-paid work.
And she admitted to being “blown away by the sheer courage of a young workforce standing up for their rights and demanding union recognition” when McDonald’s workers staged their first ever strike in Britain this week.
Ms O’Grady accused the Tory government of being blind to the problems faced by people in low-paid and insecure jobs, as ministers have never faced a “dreaded brown envelope through the door with next month’s bill” or sleepless nights caused by money worries and other pressures.
Ms O’Grady concluded that a key challenge for the trade union movement is to recruit the young workers who are worst affected by these issues.