Rishi Sunak’s public sector pay rise, for 900,000 public sector workers supposedly to “recognise their vital contribution”, excludes most key workers.
Social carers are almost all private sector employees, so they will get nothing! And the deal includes fewer than 200,000 of the NHS’s 1.5m workers. The others who got a pay rise are teachers, doctors (excluding 39,000 junior doctors), police, prison guards, army personnel, and senior civil servants and judges. In other words, only a minority of the 5.5m who work in the public sector.
In fact 1.3m NHS workers - nurses, paramedics, porters, and others - are in the middle of a 3 year pay deal. They got a 3% rise in 2018 (when inflation was 2.5%), but 1.75% rise last year and the same this year, less than the 1.8% RPI inflation for June. According to the Royal College of Nursing, pay is still 14% below 2010 in real terms!
The largest “increase” is 3.1% for teachers. But all in all, public sector pay is still below the level of 10 years ago, due to previous pay freezes and cuts. So all these workers have seen a real fall in their standard of living - and this fall continues!
Worse, since these supposed “pay rises” are meant to be paid from existing budgets, no new money is provided by the government! Sunak said the rises “shouldn’t affect provision of public services” - and no they shouldn’t! But they will, since budgets, especially in schools and prisons, are already over-stretched.
This new pay deal is only for 1 year and Sunak gave the game away about future austerity, in his letter to government departments, “we must exercise restraint in future public sector pay awards”. As if this deal was an “unrestrained”, “generous” amount to offer less than 1m workers!
Nevertheless, economists fret that Sunak is borrowing too much money. The government’s cash deficit was £174bn between April and June, which is more than double the previous record of £76.8bn in the last 3 months of 2009. Borrowing for this year is expected to reach more than £350bn, which, they say is the highest in 300 years. But is it? When the banks were bailed out in 2008/9, government borrowing reached £152bn, but an extra £500bn in loans and loan guarantees was made available.
In other words, when needed - and depending on for whom - the government has no problem about “printing money” - and never mind the deficit.
But the “deficit” today which faces workers is life-threatening. Not just because of the second wave of Covid-19, almost guaranteed by Johnson’s mishandling of the virus crisis, but because of the 650,000 jobs already lost, poverty benefits, poverty wages and the tsunami of unemployment to come.
There is no life raft to expect from Sunak. The working class will have to look to itself and its own resources - and fight for its collective life!
When nationalism trumps internationalism, it endangers human life
So now Covid-19 vaccine research has become a secret which can be “stolen” by foreign cyber-hackers? In this case, Russian ones...
But hang on. Just what kind of a world are we living in when even the scientific establishment talks about a “race” between competing research teams in order to be “first” to find a Covid-19 vaccine? It’s not even certain this is possible, yet huge resources have been put into the 200 or so competing projects and millions of doses have even been ordered beforehand by the world’s richest countries, in order to be ahead in the queue, thus depriving others.
Of course, the biggest consideration in this capitalist, profit first, world, no matter the human stakes, is the big revenues for big pharmaceuticals!
This is a sorry spectacle. And it says it all about the society we are living in - where, despite the devastation caused worldwide by this novel coronavirus - it is the value of money that talks, and not the value of human life.
So this is the context in which we have just seen the ramping up of the government’s rhetoric against Huawei/China and the “threat” it poses, as well as the threat of “Russia” - by which they mean the Russian state.
Did anyone ask why, if it is true that Russian hackers tried to steal research “secrets”, that they should have felt they needed to? The research data was meant to be available to all who need it! So did they perhaps suspect that they might be last in the queue for a vaccine, if it was discovered in Britain or the US?
That would be quite understandable, given the current reactionary climate, conveniently stoked by the long-awaited (delayed 10 months!) Intelligence and Security Committee “Russia report”.
It may not put the government in a good light. But it is a report which simply exposes that there is no evidence of the government looking for evidence... of a Russian disinformation campaign. Maybe because the government is quite good enough at promoting its own disinformation.