This week we learned that the chief executives of the UK’s 100 biggest companies are now being paid an average £3.4 million a year each.
If, like me, you’re struggling to imagine earning that much money, it means that by 2pm on Thursday 5 January, they’d already been paid more than the average full-time worker.
Government ministers have spent weeks telling public service workers that they must have real-terms pay cuts and that any attempt to peg their pay to the cost of living would ruin the economy. It came as no surprise that they are totally relaxed about these bosses receiving average pay rises of 37%!
Ministers didn’t have time to comment on this damning indictment of inequality: they were too busy announcing their latest plans to restrict the fundamental right of workers to withdraw their labour and go on strike.
A responsible government would want to address the reasons why workers feel like they have no choice but to take industrial action. Instead, the Tories want to pick another fight and attack workers’ rights even more. Three years ago, Rishi Sunak was standing in Downing Street clapping NHS workers, now he is threatening them with the sack unless they accept pay cuts.
We already have the most restrictive strike legislation in Europe and now the Tories want to go further. We will wait and see exactly what the new laws propose, but I am crystal clear that the trade union movement will fight any further attacks on our rights.
Meanwhile in UNISON we will keep fighting for our members to have a fair pay rise they desperately need. Today industrial action ballot papers are being sent to our members in East of England Ambulance Trust.
UNISON members in other ambulance trusts will be taking their second day of industrial action on 11 January. A week later our members in the Environment Agency will go on strike for the very first time.
We all have a part to play – get active in your union, support workers who are going on strike. Together we can fight for a country where its not only the bosses that get real terms pay rises.