Many workers in the UK have experienced an extended pay freeze. Being told over and over again that they are lucky to have a job is not constructive. Inflation may be starting to fall but that does nothing to redress the prices which have increased so much over the last couple of years. VAT being increased to 20% by the Coalition government meant that most people felt the effect.
In March the UK will hear what Chancellor Osborne will do to help the country balance its books. Even before such a budget though, it has been announced that Public Sector workers in the UK will continue to suffer a pay freeze. Whilst the "big wigs" in the public sector may receive hefty pay packets many ordinary workers do not. With continuing pay freezes they soon end up earning less than the minimum wage.
Of course no doubt Osborne has his eye on that too. One way to ensure that a population will work for a pittance is to abolish a minimum wage. During the Thatcher years employers could pay as low as they wanted too. In fact it was almost as if some were playing "how low can we go". We do not want to return to such times. Employers paying a couple of quid an hour as some did in the 80s and even the 90s. Frankly it may be safe to say we will not let such times return. People are less liable to sit back and take such austere measures, especially when hypocrisy is all around.
The government has approved RBS banking bonus payments this week which will total £785 million.
It does not want to offer though a worker on a few pound an hour, a few pence an hour increase.
The pay freeze for the third year on the trot was expected. That does not make it any more palatable. It is generally felt this is being done to keep the Tory Council Tax down. This tax was Maggie Thatcher's baby after the country violently rejected her poll tax. Council tax was a compromise. It does not work though. It is often used by all parties as political weaponry. Keeping the cost of council tax payments down for members of the public may sound great in principle but at the expense of working people? Not such a good idea.
Pay freezes do nothing to help the economy. When you have less money to spend you tighten your belts. Simple. The knock on effect to the economy is disaster. People become hard up lose properties and so much more. Does Osborne not understand this or does he just not care?
The government reforms to welfare payments mean that there is little respite for those who are struggling to survive financially. A recipe for more economic doom and gloom it would seem. That is unless you are part of the banking fraternity. Then you become part of a privileged few. No wonder the word Banker in the UK has become a dirty word.
1.6 million local government employees will receive no pay rise for the period 2012/13. Others will of course lose their jobs as part of the government's austerity plans. Would a pay rise for them have cost anything like the £785 million RBS bankers are going to receive in bonus payments? No!
Are such stringent measure essential to keep the UK budget on track? Well if you read Bloomberg the UK is currently in a fairly healthy financial position.
It may not yet be time to relax fully but perhaps it is time to show some compassion. It is OK looking after the big boys and girls who backed you but they do not make up the majority vote. Perhaps the Tories and Lib Dems feel there is still time before an election to play with us now and then dangle a carrot and watch the idiots grab it.
A better course of action is for voters to note the current hypocrisy and double standards for when election time comes round again. The current behaviour is expected from the Tories but the Lib Dems have politically shot themselves in the foot. Hypocrites one and all.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog