Frontline Workers Deserve More Than This

People Before Profit Banner raised at the Cost of Living Coalition March. June 2022.

The government’s offer to public sector workers is an insult. The previous two-year public sector deal called ‘Building Momentum’ gave all public sector workers a 1% increase in 2021 and gives another 1% in 2022. But inflation was 2.15% in 2021, and it’s 7.8% in 2022. So workers are down 8%.

In the proposed new two-year deal, the government has offered 2.5% and then 2.5% for next year when inflation will be at least 5%.

Accepting this insulting offer would be accepting a pay cut. What an insult to the thousands of frontline workers who worked so hard during Covid.

The public sector pay deal matters to private sector workers too because it will set a headline figure for pay increases below inflation. As the price of many basics escalates, workers are being told that we should not chase inflation as it will lead to a ‘wage-price spiral’.

There is no evidence for this. Recent figures show that in the year to the end of March hourly wages rose by 1.9%. Inflation was 6.9%. This shows that real wages are being cut on a massive scale. There hasn’t been an effective pay cut like this since the financial crash. 

Up to March a worker on average full time wages was down €2500 in spending power, but it’s now estimated that you could be out of pocket by €3500 a year as prices keep going up. So all workers need a pay rise.

Union leaders will want to go back into talks hoping that they can tweak this deal but we should be clear: workers need 10% to compensate them for inflation over last year and this year. 

The government needs to get a message that we won’t take pay cuts. Workers should now prepare for action.

Let’s ballot for industrial action to send a clear signal to the government that we need real pay increases now.