Tag: britain needs a pay rise

”People’s protest” gives 91-year-old veteran hope we can fight for fairer wages for all

This article by Harry Leslie Smith originally appeared in the Mirror.


More than 90,000 people marched this weekend to tell the Government: “Britain needs a pay rise”.

Everyone from young children to pensioners, public sector workers to celebrities took to the streets of London to protest at the TUC-organised demonstration.

Among the inspiring speakers was war veteran Harry Leslie Smith who spoke up movingly for the NHS at the Labour Party Conference.

Here the 91-year-old explains why the fight for a pay rise is one the country can’t afford to lose…

I am writing this as I prepare to leave the capital to return to the north. Outside of my hotel window I see London, like the rest of our country, can’t even rest on the 7th day.

Not one corner of our island is quiet because, after four long years of Cameron’s coalition government, we must work every waking hour to stretch pennies into pounds to meet the rising cost of living.

Austerity has ground the British economy into one that profits the elite at the expense of everyone else who toils on zero-hour contracts or tries to live off of stagnant wages.

For many, these are grim and pessimistic days that are made more dismal by the exorbitant cost of higher education, housing, fuel and food.

Life hasn’t been this difficult since the days of my youth in the 1930s and so, despite the fact that I am in my golden years, I can feel empathy and much concern for the future of today’s young.

But I am not too discouraged by the horrendous cost austerity has exacted on Britain.

I find that there is much reason to hope that soon our country will return to its standard of fair play for all.

I take heart in demonstrations like the TUC’s “Britain needs a pay rise” that was held in Hyde Park on Saturday.

Despite the fact that I am in my 90s and have been retired from the working world for close to 30 years I walked with thousands of others because I know what it is like to be paid an unfair wage.

But I was encouraged by what I heard and saw throughout the day.

People who turned up weren’t radicals, agitators or malcontents but ­ordinary folk from all walks of life and ­professions who wanted to raise their collective voice to fight the ­injustice.

The young, middle aged and soon-to-be retired were all equally represented and they all believed they were not only marching for themselves but for every worker who is struggling to live from pay cheque to pay cheque.

As I broke bread with these strangers – who all shared one noble ambition to receive just compensation for their labours – I was struck by their ­optimism and resilience.

All knew this battle for fair wages begins and ends with the workers who must mobilise either through their unions or through collective action.

It must be done as one young man said to me, like the great civil rights movements of days gone by, through peaceful protests against corporations who dole out profits to their shareholders but refuse to invest their wealth back into Britain by paying proper taxes and wages.

Protesters are rightfully confident their actions on Saturday and in the ensuing months will bring change for the better to British workers’ wages.

For me I don’t doubt their perseverance and optimism will prevail and soon we will see changes for the better to the lives of British workers.

Britain needs a pay rise: march and rally

Tens of thousands of trade unionists, public services employees and anti-austerity protestors marched in London on Saturday.

Fair pay for the NHS

Across England and Northern Ireland today, NHS workers took to the picket lines for the first time in 30 years to demand fair NHS pay

KendrayPicket_01_LoUnite Community members showing solidarity on the picket line at Kendray Hospital in Barnsley.

 Given the feedback from our members, we are confident that this was a very well-supported action with over 100 picket line protests outside NHS hospitals up and down the country. NHS workers were especially thankful for all the messages of support they’ve been receiving from the public.

We urge Jeremy Hunt to heed his responsibility to the NHS workforce and patients and to start talking with the unions to discuss fair pay for this vital staff who would rather be caring for patients than having to fight their own poverty.

Health professionals are especially concerned that the health secretary implies that fair wages for them mean job losses, but he does nothing to curb pay excess by corporate chief executives or the horrific £3 billion cost of this government’s useless reorganisation of the NHS.

The health unions are calling for the government not to impose limits on what can be achieved for this essential workforce, but to come to the table prepared to negotiate in a meaningful way.

Today general secretary Len McCluskey visited Unite members on strike picket at St Thomas’ Hospital. He said that we should send a message to this government and the political elite that NHS workers should no longer be treated as second class citizens.

Here are a few photos from today’s action (below).

Less than 4 weeks to go!


Working people in the North East Yorkshire & Humberside need a pay rise!

Real wages for workers in the North East Yorkshire & Humberside have shrunk by more than 7% since 2009. But more worrying still the north east now has the highest number of low paid workers in the country.

Enough is enough. We’re taking a stand to demand a pay rise for Britain. Join us in London on Saturday 18 October. Be part of the last mass demo before next year’s general election. Let’s make it big!

In Sunderland and Hull, over a third of all jobs are now low paid, with workers earning below two thirds of the national mid-point for wages. In Grimsby and Doncaster a quarter of workers are low paid. The lack of good jobs and secure employment is sucking even more money out of local economies. Trapping workers on poverty pay is no way to build a recovery.

March with us to call for an end to the longest squeeze on living standards for nearly a century. March for a better Britain, full of hope for ordinary people and the next generation, jobs that pay and affordable homes.

1.4 million strong – Unite members work to make Britain great in every industry across the economy.  Let’s come together now to demand a recovery for all – not just the top per cent.

See you in London!

Best regards,

Karen Reay, Unite regional secretary North East, Yorkshire & Humberside

Britain needs a pay rise


Britain’s on the mend? Then why are one in five working families struggling to afford life’s most basic necessities, like food, a home and even new shoes for the kids?

Life for millions of people in austerity Britain is as bad as it’s ever been. Low pay, insecure jobs, rising costs and cuts to support for the most vulnerable is causing misery. Thanks to Mr Cameron’s government only the rich are getting richer in Britain today.

Unite Community members have been busy publicising the event by leafleting at Northern General Hospital and with banners in Sheffield and Barnsley.

Join us on Saturday 18 October to tell this government that Britain needs a pay rise, jobs, homes, health and hope. Visit the link here.

Free coach travel to the demo. Contact the centre or email Joe.

Breadline Britain: One in three now living in poverty as chasm between rich and poor widens

This story by Jason Beattie originally appeared in the Daily Mirror here.

Almost 18 million cannot afford adequate housing and 2.5 million kids live in damp homes while ‘working poor’ are on the rise.

The number of Britons living in poverty has soared to one in three, a shock report reveals.

Almost 18 million cannot afford adequate housing and 2.5 million kids live in damp homes.

It also shows that poverty has more than doubled in 30 years, as David Cameron allows the gap between rich and poor to become a chasm.

Furious Labour MP Frank Field branded the rise “horrendous”.

Smug ministers keep saying they are helping people out of hardship – but their claims have been shot to pieces today by shocking evidence.

In a damning verdict on the Coalition, a report has revealed that 33% of people in Britain are living below the breadline.

It means poverty has more than doubled since 1983, when the figure stood at 14%.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves said: “David Cameron’s government has completely failed to tackle poverty and deprivation.

“Child poverty is set to rise, not fall under his government. And there are more people in poverty in work than out of work.”

And Mr Field added: “Tackling the causes of poverty is clearly the right strategy – this report shows that the Government’s strategy isn’t working.

“Here then is the most major challenge to all our political parties; what is your manifesto going to say to reverse the horrendous rise in the numbers of people in poverty detailed in this report?”

The major study, led by Bristol University, revealed a string of shameful findings.

  • Almost 18 million cannot afford adequate housing conditions.
  • 1.5 million children live in households that cannot afford to heat the home
  • 2.5 million kids live in properties that are damp
  • More than half a million children live in families who cannot afford to feed them properly
  • 12 million people are too poor to have a social life
  • 5.5 million adults go without essential clothing
  • One in every six adults in paid work is still poor.

Read: We are example of how inequality ruins a nation’s prospects, says director of The Equality Trust Duncan Exley.

The study blows apart the idea peddled by the Government that getting a job tackles poverty.

It found the majority of children living below the breadline have at least one parent in work.

The report said: “These results dispel the myth, often conveyed by government ministers, that poverty in general and child poverty in particular is a consequence of a lack of paid work – a result of shirking rather than striving.

“It found the majority of children who suffer from multiple deprivations – such as going without basic necessities, having an inadequate diet and clothing – live in small families with one or two siblings, live with both parents, have at least one parent who is employed, are white and live in England.”

The Poverty and Social Exclusion in the United Kingdom report, which studied 14,559 people, is the largest of its kind conducted in Britain.

While Mr Cameron has allowed fatcats to flourish, the research showed that one in three people cannot afford to heat their homes properly in winter.

And four million people are not properly fed by today’s standards.

Professor David Gordon, from the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at Bristol University, said: “The Coalition government aimed to eradicate poverty by tackling the causes of poverty. Their strategy has clearly failed.

“The available high quality scientific evidence shows poverty and deprivation have increased since 2010, the poor are suffering from deeper poverty and the gap between the rich and poor is widening.”

The shocking statistics shatter the PM’s boast that his welfare reforms are a “moral mission” giving hope to the poor.

But a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “There is strong evidence that incomes have improved over the last 30 years, despite the misleading picture painted by this report.

“The independent statistics are clear – there are 1.4 million fewer people in poverty since 1998.

“And under this government we have successfully protected the poorest from falling behind, with a reduction of 300,000 children living in relative income poverty and 100,000 fewer children in workless poor families. As part of our economic plan, the Government is committed to tackling the root causes of child poverty.”

This comes a week after Mr Cameron’s anti-poverty tsar Alan Milburn warned that t he Government’s child poverty plans were doomed to fail.

Ex-Labour minister Mr Milburn said the Coalition’s policies were a “farce” and warned that 3.5 million children will be in poverty by 2020.

Despite the size of the economy doubling in the past 30 years, the number of families who cannot afford to heat their homes has also doubled in that time.

There are now 13 million people living in cold or damp homes – three million more than in the 1990s.

Recent figures also show the number of emergency food parcels handed out has soared to more than a million because of the Government’s austerity measures.