This wasn’t an easy decision to make and up until fairly close to the day I wasn’t convinced either way, which is unusual for me. I normally hold fairly strong views on most issues and try and research the background first which helps to inform my decisions.
In this case, I hadn’t done much research and so apart from being a member of UNISON and wanting to support my fellow members, I didn’t have strong views. I also don’t have a local authority pension so going on strike over pension reform didn’t immediately seem like the best option for me.
So, why did I go on strike? Answer: George Osborne. Thanks to his Autumn Statement, released just before the strike action, I changed the emphasis of how I was looking at the whole issue and found a different reason. This reason was the freezing pf public sector pay. The freezing of the pay for the public servants of the country is a further burden, added to the huge numbers of workers already sacked. Our pay has already been frozen for the last couple of years and the result of the proposals would be a further 3 years of freeze!
The statement sets out a 1% pay cap for 2 years after the first freeze year. 1% is still roughly 4% below inflation, meaning 5 years of below inflation pay deals. When the cost of living is rising sharply and the real income is frozen, there is a further pressure on already tight finances. The added annoyance of working for the general public’s benefit but still getting this kind of treatment also adds to the ill feelings.
The other point was the issue of regulated rail fares rising by up to 6%: another above inflation cost to the public transport sector which will either put more people back onto the roads or make the people who are still on the trains pay more. This follows a trend of above inflation rises which just exacerbates the problem.