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Hospital porter Paul Jones was one of the key workers who spoke to Sally-Ann Hart.

Sally-Ann Hart declines to back call for key worker pay rise

Local MP Sally-Ann Hart was happy last week to meet up with key workers and hear their experiences, but declined to sign an open letter to the Chancellor calling for a pay rise for them. Nick Terdre reports.

Hastings & District Trades Union Council, which has signed up to the Trades Union Congress campaign to get a fair deal for key workers, was pleased when Hastings & Rye MP Sally-Ann Hart accepted an invitation to an online meeting with key workers to hear their experiences of working during the pandemic.

But when asked to sign an open letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for a pay rise for them, she declined. Despite much praise lavished by the government on key workers, many of whom are in low-paid public sector jobs, it has however resisted proposals to acknowledge their efforts and sacrifices with improved pay, and on other matters backbencher Hart has shown little inclination to deviate from the government line.

Sally-Ann Hart at Westminster.

She undertook however to write separately to the Chancellor to bring up some of the individual issues raised. The trades council said it had received a copy of her letter but been asked not to divulge the contents.

HOT has asked Hart for her comment on the meeting and a copy of her letter, but as of writing has received no response.

Never stopped

“During the pandemic – key workers never stopped,” the trades council said. “When the shelves had to be stocked – retail workers were there. When hospitals were at breaking point – nurses, doctors and other NHS staff were there. When children needed support and care – teachers were there. While many of us stayed at home, key workers went to work and risked their lives to take care of all of us.

“After decades of going unnoticed – the pandemic has pulled back the curtain and revealed just how much we rely on nurses, care workers, retail and delivery workers, public transport workers, teachers and support staff, cleaners, energy workers and so many others…

“But we know key workers need more than applause and appreciation. They need action.  They need a pay rise.

“That is why key workers are calling on the government to give them a pay rise at the next budget on 3 March. All across the country, the TUC have been arranging meetings to ask MPs to listen to the experiences of key workers, and support the campaign by signing an open letter to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.”

Present at the online meeting with Hart were NHS staff from the Conquest Hospital, community mental health workers, tutors, transport workers and others.

”We were very grateful, and appreciate that Sally-Ann took the time to hear the personal experiences of key workers from Hastings & Rye,” said Jonathan Lee, secretary of Hastings & District Trades Union Council.”

Disappointing

“However, it is disappointing that Sally-Ann ultimately decided not to sign the open letter in support of key workers.”

He added, “The overwhelming message I got from the meeting is that the detrimental impact of the pandemic on workers at the front-line will be evident for a long time into the future. In particular, I have deep concerns about the mental health of key workers and the feeling that they are not valued.  Action is needed now to ensure that those who have supported us all are rightly rewarded.”

Paul Jones, a porter at the Conquest Hospital, said “With the NHS pay rise delayed, I feel disheartened and used.  Considering that it was key workers who kept the country going.  So all those claps were for nothing.”

Rachel Gordon, a NHS mental health PA, though “thankful that [Sally-Ann] took the time to listen to us when so many of her colleagues choose to not even give us the time of day,” was “obviously very disappointed that she won’t be publicly backing the pay rise for key workers.”

“The government say they want to ‘build back better’,” said Simon Hester, former Health & Safety Executive inspector. “That will just be warm words and propaganda unless key workers in the public and private sectors get a serious pay rise. They can find magic money forests for the banks, big business and the military. Now essential workers deserve serious recognition.”

The local economy will also miss out if key workers are denied a pay rise, in the trade council’s view. “It has been calculated that there are 3,785 key workers within Hastings & Rye and if they do not receive even a small 2.4% pay rise, the loss to the local economy amounts to £3,107,978. Key workers spend locally and support local businesses,” it said. In Hastings as many as one third of the workforce are considered to be key workers, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

Text of the open letter Sally-Ann Hart was asked to sign

Dear Chancellor 

We are writing as a group of MPs to raise our concerns about announcements made on pay for key workers in your Spending Review of November 2020. 

Key workers across a range of sectors in our constituencies have put themselves on the line to serve our communities and keep our economy going in this unprecedented crisis. 

Many of those key workers are telling us that they do not feel they are getting the recognition they deserve or being properly valued for their work. 

Many are public service workers facing another government imposed pay freeze.

We call on you to use the March budget to revise your proposals and give key workers the fair pay they deserve and that our economy needs. 

We call on you to give key workers a pay rise.

More on the TUC campaign.

 

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Posted 17:30 Tuesday, Mar 2, 2021 In: Politics

2 Comments

Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Jill Fricker

    Oh, so reduce the tax receipts that fund . . . the NHS! Great economic strategy, Colin.

    Comment by Jill Fricker — Wednesday, Apr 7, 2021 @ 23:01

  2. Colin Foy

    The quickest way to a pay rise without printing more money or causing inflation is to raise the tax allowance. You give people more money by not taking so much money in the first place. Colin Foy

    Comment by Colin Foy — Thursday, Mar 4, 2021 @ 13:46

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