The latest set of strikes, by rail and BT workers, shows the level of anger towards companies who are not paying workers what they deserve. With inflation spiralling out of control and rising energy bills, millions of people across the country – including here in Stockport – are rightly worried about how they’ll make ends meet.
Now, more than ever, it is right that people are paid what they deserve, and that must include salary increases in line with inflation.
That’s one of the reasons why I was proud to stand on the RMT picket line last month, and why I did so again this week to support striking CWU workers. Many of those on strike are paid below national average salaries and, in the case of the rail workers, are often in safety critical roles.
It is completely unacceptable to not pay them a salary that reflects the crucial role that they do. The vast majority of workers in these industries kept our country going during the pandemic, and this is no way to treat them for simply asking to avoid a real-terms pay cut.
In the case of BT, they have more than enough money to pay their workers. Not least because their CEO, Philip Jansen, recently awarded himself an eye-watering 32% pay rise, taking his salary to £3.5m. When BT is also hiking its prices by 13 per cent, further adding to its own profits, there is no excuse not to reward those same workers who deliver those same billion-pound profits every year.
When this is combined with the fact that BT call centres have installed food banks to provide for their own workers who are struggling to provide for themselves and their families, it’s time to say that enough is enough.
What’s clear is that the current cost of living crisis has exposed many bad faith companies who only look after their CEO’s and shareholders, and pay their workers the bare minimum.
But the economic crisis has also exposed the Government’s failed austerity policies of the past 12 years, which has seen them preside over the largest fall in living standards since the 1950’s. We must do everything we can to protect our hard fought democratic rights to strike.
That is why we are facing a whole summer of strike action from across all sectors, from barristers to bar workers, and I will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all of them until they are paid what they deserve.