TUC: We need a Workers’ Budget this week. Join us to demand one

Frances O’Grady

Welcome to pandemic Britain, where a year into the crisis sick pay is still only £96 per week and two million earn too little to get it. And that’s not all. Unemployment is at 5% and rising fast. Lockdown won’t end until 21st June – but furlough is due to end in April. Ministers have made huge cuts to the green homes grant, taking a wrecking ball to hopes for a green jobs revolution.

Creaking public services are held together by the hard work of staff. Pay freezes are a reality for millions of key workers. And three-quarters of care workers are still paid less than the real living wage. 11,000 working age people have died with Covid – but no bad bosses have been prosecuted. A quarter of working mums are worried they’ll be forced out of work. BME workers are far more likely to die from coronavirus. And disabled and shielding workers are first in line for job cuts.

On Wednesday, Rishi Sunak will stand up and give his Budget. Our expectations are not overly high. That’s why on Tuesday 2nd March, the night before the Chancellor’s Budget, the trade union movement will stand together as one, and demand the Workers’ Budget we all need. Join us at tuc.org.uk/RegisterWorkersBudget.

We need a Workers’ Budget that prioritises protecting jobs and creating new ones. Supporting our hardest-hit sectors – like the arts and creative industries, retail, hospitality and aviation. Extending furlough for as long as is needed. Helping the self-employed and fixing the gaps in support.

We need a Workers’ Budget that gives all our key workers a pay rise. That means stopping the pay freeze on public sector key workers – and getting decent pay rises for all our NHS and public services staff. And it means delivering for all our key workers, including those in the private sector. We need a fast-rising minimum wage, and decent funding so outsourced workers delivering key services get pay parity and at least the real living wage.

We need a Workers’ Budget that invests to create the decent jobs of the future. Skilled, well-paid jobs in green tech. The TUC has shown that government investment could create 1.2 million jobs in just two years. We need those decent jobs to replace those that are being lost, and give workers and communities hope again.

We need a Workers’ Budget that brings forward the employment bill, so we can finally ban the hated zero-hours contracts, end the despicable practice of ‘fire and rehire’ and make the work-life balance revolution a reality for working parents in every sort of job.

We need a Workers’ Budget that invests in our precious NHS and public services. Ministers should restore the funding cut from the health and safety executive and local authorities since 2010, so we can get inspectors out into workplaces making sure workers are safe. And we need government to unlock the 600,000 vacancies and gaps in our public services, cutting unemployment at a stroke and helping restore decent services for everyone.

We need a Workers’ Budget to put equality at the heart of our society. Restoring funding for childcare and making sure the legacy of Covid isn’t women pushed out of the labour market. No more reviews on race equality, but action to close the pay gap and make sure BME workers are safe at work. Real action on disability equality making sure disabled and shielding workers aren’t first in line for redundancy.

And we need a Workers’ Budget to restore our safety net. We would start with keeping the £20 uplift to Universal Credit – and raise overall levels of Universal Credit. And make statutory sick pay worth the level of a real living wage, £330 per week, and make sure everyone can get it.

A Workers’ Budget is how we recover and build a better country. It’s how we make sure this lockdown is the last, and stop mass unemployment. It’s how we deliver equality and fairness, through solidarity. Join us at 7.30pm on Tuesday 2nd March to demand a workers’ Budget.

Frances O’Grady, Christina McAnea, Steve Turner, Kevin Courtney, Dave Ward and many other trade unionists will speak, alongside Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds. And we will be joined by activists from the crucial industrial struggle to win recognition for the union at Amazon in Bessemer, Alabama, and by reality TV star and stalwart trade union advocate Amy Hart.

Register here to add your voice to our call for a Workers’ Budget on Tuesday at 7.30pm.

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