Tag Archives: public sector

The 84% – starting the digital fightback

29 Jun

by Amy Jackson

Coalition cuts have resulted in massive unemployment for women. Of the 231,000 made redundant since the cuts were implemented, 193,000 are women. That is 84%. Worryingly, this attack on women’s At the job centreemployment has been given little to no airplay by traditional media, despite the fact that the number of women out of work now is the highest in 25 years. Worse still, this trend is likely to carry on as the government continues to bring the axe down on the public sector, where women make up 65% of the workforce. In November 2011, the Office of Budgetary Responsibility estimated that 710,000 jobs will be lost in the public sector between now and 2017.

The evidence showing that women are bearing the brunt of the cuts is easy to find. The Fawcett Society, who campaign for equality for women, say on their website:

‘Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that, since the end of the recession (at the end of 2009), women’s unemployment has been rising at a significantly disproportionate rate to men’s. In February 2012, men’s unemployment stood slightly below where it did back then (at 1.535 million) whereas women’s unemployment has increased by over 20% (from 945,000 to 1.14 million). In fact, over the past two years women have accounted for 100% of the increase in unemployment.’

Yet outside of the websites and press releases of women’s groups and trade unions, there is very little coverage of the issue. A very quick scan of news results on ‘Google News’ shows articles dealing specifically with women’s unemployment are few and far between, mostly making a passing reference to women while discussing the wider issues of unemployment as a whole. The lack of media attention means the issue is going unnoticed by the majority, and the government is not being held accountable for its attack on women workers. 

Donna Govan, campaigner for Unison, said, ‘Having been signed up to all both the political blogs and the ‘feminist’ blogs, I’ve been concerned that this issues appears to be ignored by the political blogosphere because it is a women’s issue and ignored by the feminist channels because it is an employment issue.  We simply can’t afford this silence, politically, economically and as a society.’

To combat this silence, the Netroots conference tomorrow will be holding a workshop on the issue – ‘The 84%: Starting the digital fight back’ . Focussing on how we can use digital channels to bring make the 84% a mainstream issue, the session aims find a way to move these redundancies from the personal to the political in a way that gets grabs the media’s attention, and brings this mass unemployment of women more in to the public arena. Left Out will be there, we hope you can make it too!

 

The session will take  place at 11am, Saturday 30th June, at the Netroots Conference: Congress Centre, Great Russell St, London, WC1B 3LS

 

You can find out more details about Netroots and buy your tickets (only a fiver!) here.

10 reasons why regional pay won’t work

17 May

by Amy Jackson

 

Yesterday 22 Lib Dem MPs sent an open letter to the Guardian in opposition to the government’s plans for regional pay. Osborne argues that ending national pay agreements and centralised pay bargaining gives a fairer deal to taxpayers, creates a better service (somehow) and ensures a fairer deal for public sector workers (we are sure they would disagree). Here is why he is wrong.

1. Regional pay is unfair and in breach of equal opportunity principles. People doing the same job should not have different rates of pay.  One exception that is perhaps justifiable is the context of London, and London weighting already covers the significantly higher living costs of the capital.

2. The employer has a responsibility. Civil Servants are employed by Central Government.  It is a national work force that should have national terms and conditions.  Without them the legal basis for any deals becomes dodgy.

3. How do you match up the regions to regional pay?  Remember we already have 3 regions – inner London, outer London and the rest. There are also pockets within regions that are not easily recognised and if they are assumed to be compatible with low rates of pay then you have chaos. Manchester within the North West is a classic example.

4. Regional pay depresses the regions outside London even further and drives yet more business and talent to the South East where pay would undoubtedly be higher.

5. Implementing variable pay rates the first time may be seen as practical, but with time the pay rates become a factor in what happens the business.  At the moment we have a flat rate of pay and we can measure the impact of that rate across the country on turnover.  With different rates of pay in operation you are not sure whether the issues are down to the rate of pay, the social conditions or the competence of managers.

6. Who negotiates the different pay rates?  If it is done centrally there is a real risk of underhand bargaining and personalities coming into play.  One union rep gets a deal the other cannot because of personal history.  If it is devolved there is a risk that inconsistency creeps into other areas. For example, in the North East pay is poor because of reduced budget allocations but locally certain sweeteners are added (such as an extra half day off each week) in order to get a deal secured.  This lack of control, plus grievance, plus inconsistent conditions of service, is a real concern.

7. The impact on staff morale.  Staff are concerned with fairness and money.  Regional pay will affect productivity and motivation.  Civil servants deal with vulnerable people who need responsible civil servants, not individuals who have a sense of grievance.

8. The civil service has not had a pay rise for 4 years.  The Tories argue that this is essential – would it not be more easily breached with regional rates of pay?

9.  Regional pay will create a huge backlash. The Coalition has already seen two days of national strikes in the public sector against proposed pension changes, and attempts to implement regional pay would be met with a similar reaction.

10. Private sector employers are unlikely to respond with generous offers of pay rises, and instead may feel that as the local rate was now falling, they too could hold down pay in their businesses. The UK economy is suffering from a lack of demand, and paying people less is hardly the solution.

Regional Pay, No Way

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