EMMA LEWELL-BUCK: Workers are not striking for themselves but for all of us
They have been left with no option; the Government have belligerently refused to meaningfully negotiate with them.
Instead, they have tried to turn the public against those striking and pit worker against worker by claiming that it is the unions’ fault that people can’t get to work on time or can’t get medical attention.
However, the reality is the problems on our railways and in our NHS have been intensifying for years now, and those on strike are striking so as to stem this tide.
It is the Government that is responsible; the last 12 years have seen cuts to services, erosion in working conditions and an environment where profit is siphoned off to shareholders not put back into services or to pay those delivering these services a liveable wage.
The Prime Minister is trying to spin the unions’ demands for fair pay as picking the pockets of the taxpayers – forgetting the workers are taxpayers themselves – and has suggested that a pay rise, in line with inflation, would cost an extra £28bn.
This was, in fact, complete nonsense, as the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates the cost at £18bn.
Considering a one-off 10% tax on wealth above £10m could raise an immediate £86bn, or that the Government lost around £16bn of taxpayers’ money in fraudulent Covid loans and £10bn in unusable PPE, these figures don’t seem unreasonable; it is merely a political choice.
But these strikes are not just about pay.
They are about working conditions as well as under staffing and limited resources.
Paramedics and nurses are striking in desperation at the chronic collapse of the NHS and the impact this has on patients.
Rail workers are trying to ensure we have guards on the train to keep us safe and our posties don’t want to see the erosion of our national mail service.
The workers on strike aren’t just fighting for themselves, they are fighting for all of us.
Their fight is our fight and that’s why they will always have my full support.