Stuff the market! Nurses and teachers fight back!

United action will send the government running for cover

GONE IS the government’s call for public sector workers to make sacrifices in their own long-term interest, for the good of us all. After 15 years of Tory rule, nobody will fall for that any more. The government no longer even pretends that next year we will reap the rewards for this year’s pay cuts. We must all just bow down to the sacred cow of market forces.

So, while prices look set to rise by more than four percent, teachers are set to get only 2.7% and nurses just 1%.

Yet the Tories intend to pay as much as 25% more to top civil servants, giving some a pay rise of £55,000 a year.

This is needed, they say, to attract the best people from private industry. But what about attracting the best nurses and teachers? Not a chance. After all it is only workers’ health and workers’ education on the line. Our rulers prefer to fork out for their own private healthcare and posh schools. The NHS and public education can be left to rot.

Even the meagre rises for nurses and teachers can only be funded in full through cuts made in other areas. Health authorities have been given permission to negotiate additional local rises up to an extra two percent for nurses - but only if they make ‘savings’ to pay for them. And that means even more hospital closures, even longer waiting lists.

John Lister of London Health Emergency said, “It amounts to ‘go and negotiate yourself out of a job’. The NHS trusts have no money, so it is clearly a question of wage cuts or job losses.”

Some trusts are already introducing differential payments for new staff, giving them lower rates for unsocial hours or allocating them to lower grades.

Local authorities are already stumped as to how they should fund the teachers’ paltry rise. Whichever option they go for will involve attacks on the working class.

Incredibly, education secretary Gillian Shephard, warning teachers not to resist, said they should “remember that some parents of the children they teach will have had no pay rise at all.” No wonder the Fianancial Times comments, “Ministers might have been expected to handle the public pay issue with more sensitivity.”

It adds, “Ministers are taking a high risk in the face of public sector pay discontent.”

We should make sure that discontent turns to action and Major’s ‘high risk’ tactics blow up in his face.