End the public sector pay freeze

We need to end the public sector pay restraint – which Osborne seems likely to extend in his 8 July Budget. Some workers in our public services are taking home 20% less in real terms now than they were before the recession – due to years of pay freeze, pay caps, and increases in pension contributions.
Did nurses pay crash the economy? Did refuse collectors pensions bankrupt Northern Rock? Did too many teaching assistants bring down the derivatives markets? No. So why did dedicated public servants pay the price and why wasn’t Labour opposing it?
More public sector workers are now having to claim working tax credits and housing benefit just to make ends meet. What sort of example is government setting when so many of its own workforce are paid so little they need to claim benefits?
The pay cut imposed on public sector workers is bad for growth in the economy and contributes to growing inequality. A pay rise in the public sector will help grow our economy overall. It will put more money back into the economy that will largely be spent in the private sector – it will help private businesses and those who work in them, and save on in-work benefits.

You can’t cut your way to prosperity. The public sector pay freeze hurts the families of public sector workers and threatens to damage the morale of each and every public sector worker – and of the service provided. We need to invest to provide public services that act as a springboard to an economy that enables everyone to prosper.
My campaign for leader is committed to a Labour government that will ensure the recommendations of national pay bodies are implemented and restore national pay bargaining. We urgently need an inflation-plus pay rise for public sector workers and we will need one even more by 2020. And as Labour leader I would press the government to end the public sector pay freeze.
But low pay isn’t limited to the public sector. some of the worst examples of low pay and poor working conditions are to be found in the private sector, where trade union membership is just 14%.
Last year, UK company profitability hit record highs. But without unions, any increase in returns only gets shared in the boardrooms and between shareholders.
Trade unions are the most effective force for equality in the workplace. Research shows that both in the UK and across the developed world greater pay equality correlates with higher trade union membership.
So how can a Labour government enable trade unions to win equality? Trade unions need the right to access workplaces to recruit and organise.
But we also need to look at establishing wage councils with binding standards in some industries – and extend the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority into new industries where exploitation and unsafe practices are worst.

When Labour leader John Smith made his last speech to the TUC he set out a ‘Charter for Employment Rights’ to:
“give all working people basic rights that will come into force from the first day of their employment. We will give the same legal rights to every worker, part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent.
“We will give every working man and woman the right to protection against unfair dismissal, and access to health and safety protection. And every worker will have the right to join a trade union and have the right to union recognition.”
That modest charter needs to be in the next Labour manifesto. Equal rights for all workers in the UK from day one.