Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Would a pay rise cost jobs?

As we prepare for a campaign to persuade local government workers to fight for fair pay, we need to prepare to answer the arguments which will be put against us.



Supporters of the public sector pay freeze - and now of pay restraint (which means real terms pay cuts) sometimes use the argument put by Ed Balls to last year's TUC - that we must tolerate falling living standards to save jobs.



Prophets of doom within the unions sometimes echo this counsel of despair - saying that members fearful for their jobs won't fight for fair pay.



There's an obvious superficial plausibility to both of these flawed arguments, if you imagine local authorities as simply having a fixed pot of money, the size and distribution of which cannot be influenced by political pressure.



The evidence of official Government statistics tell a different story however - and one that should be shared with trade union members;



"Excluding the reclassification of jobs between the public and private sectors, the number of people employed in the public sector fell by 128,000 between September 2011 and September 2012." (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/february-2013/statistical-bulletin.html#tab-Public-and-private-sector-employment--first-published-on-12-December-2012-)



So the pay freeze didn't avert massive job losses - it accompanied them.



The obvious truth is that if the trade unions don't at least attempt to show our strength by mobilising our members then we won't achieve much on jobs or pay.



And if the trade unions don't fight back on a national scale we will fail to mobilise the political pressure which will be required, under this or any conceivable Government, to restore local government spending and repair the damage being done to jobs and services.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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