Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Public sector workers are fighting for us all

When hundreds of thousands of public sector workers go on strike, the government should take note. These are not the ‘militants’, the ‘extremists’ or the ‘bully boys’ that feature in the fantasies of the Tory media.

These are hard-working, mostly low paid, men and women who keep our vital public services going despite inadequate resources and ever worsening conditions. When these people, who are at the heart of our communities, feel they have no other choice but to walk out, we should all realise that there is a serious grievance that must be addressed.


What on earth does Labour leader Ed Miliband mean when he opposes the strikes by saying, “we are on the side of parents and children"? As if the hundreds of thousands of strikers are not themselves parents or users of the very same services that they work so hard to provide!

Public sector pensions are under attack from a government that values the work of the millionaire banker more than they value the work of a classroom teacher. Home care workers who do the most difficult jobs looking after vulnerable elderly and disabled people face massive cuts in their wages, and changes to their working conditions, that would make it impossible for many of them to survive.

First and foremost, this is an issue of justice. Low-paid public sector workers are not responsible for the economic crisis we are in. Yet they are the ones who will struggle to pay their mortgage, and put food on the table, while Tory bankers only struggle to think how to spend their obscene bonuses.

Yes, people will be inconvenienced by strikes. That is because the services these workers provide are so important to our society. But on this issue we really should be “all in it together”.  Those men and women who take strike action this week are fighting for us all.