Every single Conservative MP has now made it very clear that they don’t give a damn about those working in the Public Sector. Yesterday they all voted against Labour’s amendment to end the Public sector pay freeze which has effectively cut public sector wages every year for the past seven years.
For those who don’t know, this pay freeze was introduced by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition in 2010 and froze public sector wages at a 1% increase each year. There are over 5 million people working in the public sector which include but is not limited to; nurses, the emergency services, teachers and civil servants. Now, while it is referred to as a ‘pay freeze,’ because inflation has been more than 1% each year it has in real terms been a pay cut. When Cameron originally introduced it was only meant to last two years, but in the true Conservative tradition of broken promises it has continued for seven years. In simple terms, the Conservatives have been cutting the wages of the entire public sector, 5.4 million people, every year for the last seven years in the name of austerity.
“We thank all our emergency services for the work they have done,” said Theresa May after the Grenfell fire, you’ve all probably heard similar things from other Conservatives praising emergency services and other parts of the public sector. The emergency services did an incredible job and they deserve to be paid well for the vital work they do. So you’d think that when Labour tabled a motion to effectively stop cutting the pay of the public sector which includes the emergency services they would happily support it. In reality, those very same Tory politicians turned around, stuck their middle fingers up at the people they had just praised, and marched through that division lobby condemning the public sector to more wage cuts. So much for ‘work hard and you will succeed.’
The Conservatives were supported by the ten DUP MPs who also voted against the amendment, which is unsurprising considering the Conservatives gave them £1bn for this exact situation. I just want you to consider that for a second, the Conservative Party are willing to spend one billion pounds of your tax money to keep themselves in power, but are completely unwilling to stop cutting the wages of the public sector which run services essential to our society.
My local MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston, was one of the Conservative MPs who voted against the amendment to end the pay freeze. Earlier that day she tweeted this:
Which begs the question, if she is so passionate about this issue why didn’t she vote to end the pay freeze? The answer that will be probably be given is the usual excuse of ‘following the party line’. Personally, I find that to be an absolutely pathetic excuse because it implies that you have put your party before your constituents. Bearing in mind that the fundamental principle our supposed democracy is built on is that an MP’s primary duty is to represent their constituents, not their party. I contacted Sarah Wollaston for a comment but so far she has yet to respond.
Interestingly the public sector pay freeze is not even supported by other members of the Conservative party. Tory councillor Jane Race tweeted:
She makes the astute point that while pay has been cut for those in the public sector MPs had a 10% pay rise in 2015. She is right to be ashamed of her party, they have not only abandoned those in the public sector but have deliberately financially crushed our nurses, doctors, teachers and emergency services to the point where some public sector workers have to go to food banks.
The Conservatives either need to put their money where their mouth is and lift the pay freeze or be honest with the public and say that they don’t care about those working in the public sector and they would be quite happy to run our public services into the ground to give tax breaks to the rich. But what do you want? If you believe that public sector workers who provide us with healthcare, education and security deserve to be paid a decent wage then you need to actively do something today. Whether that is emailing your MP, organising a protest or even just talking to friends and family who are unaware, you can do something about this. Most importantly, don’t vote Conservative at the next general election whether it’s held tomorrow or in two years time.