July 15, 2014

Bill Esterson



Strikes by staff across the public sector show the depth of feeling towards the attacks made on them by this government. 

Staff have faced big pay cuts combined with cuts to their pensions since the coalition was formed in 2010. Meanwhile those earning over £150,000 a year have seen their taxes cut at the same time.

Teachers, nurses, fire fighters and police officers have all seen their pay cut under this government at the same time that the Tories and Lib Dems have given tax cuts to the wealthiest.

Michael Gove says he values teachers but he has consistently cut their pay. 

The same is true across the public sector. If you value your staff you don’t treat them the way that this government has done. 

The Tories and their Lib Dem allies have provoked strikes and those of you who went on strike have every right to feel that you had no choice. 

To those people who say that teachers, nurses and fire fighters should not have gone on strike, I would ask them to speak to the staff who teach our children, who care for us and who protect us and understand just what happened to lead to this point. 

The staff I know who work in the public sector do so because they want to serve the public. The way the government has acted has made this very difficult at times. 

Everyone understands that the deficit needs to be cut following the global financial crisis. But this government has cut the pay of those who work hard in our public services at the same time as giving more money to the wealthy. I think that is why many people understood and supported those on strike. 

Teachers are being asked to work far longer than ever before. Fire fighters have faced cuts at a dangerous level. Meanwhile nurses in our NHS face a growing crisis due to the top down re-organisation, we see the privatisation of services like those of staff at the Ministry of Justice in Bootle and elderly and disabled residents suffer as a result of the cuts in social services.

Many teachers are leaving the profession, often in the first few years as a result of the changes being made by the government. If the government continues to attack its own staff, more will leave. 

We will see a growing crisis in teaching, with a devastating impact on our children and on their future prospects, with dire consequences for a generation of young people, for their job prospects and for our economy if our education system declines all as a result of what the government is doing to its own staff. 

A similar story is told in our NHS, in our fire and rescue service, in the police and in local government. 

As a country, we cannot afford to see a further decline in public services. 

We will all be the poorer for such a decline, which is what will follow if staff continue to be undermined. 

I would prefer it if there were no strikes but I completely understand the actions of people who had never been on strike . They are taking a stand and we should all show that we are on their side not on that of a reckless government which has caused the strikes.

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