Civil service workers in Northern Ireland are very angry but not shocked by First Minister Peter Robinson’s call for a two year pay freeze for those earning more than £21,000 a year. Robinson, just like his Assembly colleagues from all parties, needs to portray public service workers as a drain on public finances to make way for the draconian cuts to public services. Civil servants are an easy and popular target of attack and politicians are happy to peddle the myth they should feel lucky to have a job. It suits their purpose to paint a picture that civil servants have inflated salaries and outlandish pensions. The reality is very different. Robinson’s proposals would mean that these workers, many of whom are at the bottom of their pay scale, would stay at the bottom of their pay scales without incremental progression and being paid less than the rate for the job. Years of Treasury restraint which set limits on civil service pay means that most workers have, in real terms, already taken a 10% pay cut over the last 8-10 years. Civil servants are the only public servants whose pay is directly negotiated with the Assembly. This means they are the only public servants whose pay can be cut by the Assembly. It’s a flavour of what the Assembly would do to health and education workers if they could. Behind the public pretence of challenging the Tory cuts our local politicians are more than happy to make workers pay for the economic crisis caused by the greed of millionaire speculators. Public and private sector workers must stand together and unite against this onslaught on low paid workers. We shouldn’t allow this Assembly to divide workers or to pick us off one by one. Opposition to attacks on civil service pay must now become a central demand of the general fight against cuts. It will also be necessary to prepare the ground for a campaign of industrial action if the Assembly begins to move towards cutting pay.
Royal Mail deal not acceptable
Fight needed to safeguard jobs and working conditions
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) leadership have agreed a deal with Royal Mail that they say “delivers on the major issues which postal workers have fought for”. The 80 page agreement has been met with a wide range of views amongst CWU members, as it has produced many “winners” but also a large amount of losers. Many delivery workers could lose between £10 and £30 a week.
Build up the Movement for Palestinian Rights in Lebanon!
BT pay deal – “We still feel like we deserve more”
TheSocialist spoke to a worker in BT’s Customer Service contact centre after the recent 9.3% pay deal over three and half years - the equivalent to nearly 3% each year.
“With inflation in August running at 4.7% and VAT set to hit 20% in January, this pay deal will not match inflation and is in effect a pay cut. We still feel like we deserve more. For someone on A1 (the lowest pay band in BT) who earns £14,197 a year before any deductions, it is getting very difficult to pay the bills. The new pay deal isn’t going to cover it. Yet BT has reported massive pre-tax profits of £1billion so far this year!
Iran – End the dictatorship
11 February: From the revolution of the oppressed 1979 to the new wave of resistance 2010
The regime in Tehran is officially celebrating the 31st anniversary of the 1979 revolution, made by the oppressed, workers and poor. At the same time, thousands of people are imprisoned for the “crime” of demanding democratic rights. But the movement continues: from the protests against the rigged elections, the struggle has moved on to demand the bringing down of the dictatorship of the new elite. If the movement for democratic rights is linked to mass struggle of the working class and the poor, the regime will fall.