The Autumn Statement put significant real-terms cuts to pay on the table for those working in services that already have massive rates of vacancies. But public sector workers aren’t taking this lying down. In November, the Royal College of Nurses voted for the first strike action in their 106-year history. If that doesn’t show the scale of the crisis facing workers in our NHS, I don’t know what does. Nurses have my full solidarity and support in their efforts to end the low pay and understaffing driving nurses out of our health service.
By the close of the month, trade unions for firefighters, teachers, midwives and ambulance workers had all either opened active ballots or signalled their intention to ballot for strike action in the near future. These strikes are about low pay but they are also about its consequences: falling standards across our public services, which are crumbling thanks to years of under-resourcing and chronic staffing shortages. We have to end the situation where key worker pay slips fail to reflect the social value of their work.