Workers must be decently paid

Ian Lavery wins the Wansbeck seat at the Northumberland General Election count 2017
Ian Lavery wins the Wansbeck seat at the Northumberland General Election count 2017

At last, after months of pressure and campaigning by the Labour Party and the trade unions, it seems the government may be lifting the draconian one per cent cap on public sector pay rises, starting with the police and prison services.

If reports are to be believed, the lifting of the cap will quickly be extended to other public sector staff, hopefully starting with our wonderful nurses, followed by our teachers and local government workers, who have all been denied a decent living wage since 2010 when the Tory government first froze their pay.

Our party research has indicated that the average wage of policemen and women has effectively been cut by £6,000 since 2010, and no doubt the other services have suffered equally.

During the parliamentary recess I took the opportunity to meet the chief constable of Northumbria Police Steve Ashman to be briefed on the work being done to cut crime and protect the victims of crime.

I was able to express my concern about the reduced hours some of our police stations are now accessible to the public, particularly at Bedlington, and the potential impact cuts in resources could have on the safety of our residents.

The message we have to get back to government is that the safety of the public must not be compromised and the police and support staff must be given all the resources they need to do their jobs, right across the country.

Equally the men and women who staff our police, ambulance and fire services and provide the expertise and care we need in our hospitals, help our children get the best education we can give them, and man local government services we all depend upon must be decently rewarded for the work they do.

I read time and time again that public sector workers are quitting their jobs because they simply cannot afford to live on the wages they are paid. It is a trend that simply has to be stopped.