Pandemic frontline workers ‘should be given pay rise’

The Scottish Trades Union Congress is calling for workers to be given an extra £2 per hour.

Pandemic frontline workers ‘should be given pay rise’ Getty Images

The Scottish Trades Union Congress has urged the Scottish and UK Governments to increase pay for frontline workers.

Roz Foyer, the general secretary of the group, will tell its annual congress on Tuesday that an extra £2 per hour should be given to NHS staff, carers, workers in retail and transport and those who helped to keep social security programmes running through the pandemic.

During the first wave of Covid-19 earlier this year, people across the country applauded key workers outside their homes for their efforts.

Ms Foyer will tell the congress that “claps and rainbows don’t pay the bills”.

She will say: “As the second wave of this virus takes hold and we face a long, hard winter, let’s not forget that although many of these crucial and highly skilled workers are still exhausted from the first wave, they’re being asked to do more, go faster and reach further in their work to take care of us all over again.

“Let’s recognise their contribution properly. Claps and rainbows don’t pay the bills.

“It’s time we gave them a decent pay rise, to make sure they can feed and look after their own families”

She added: “Key workers are the cornerstone of our economy and our society.

“They keep people fed, healthy and cared for, and able to access the basic goods and services they need to live.

“While the pay of many workers is not in the gift of the Scottish Government, they have control over public-sector pay policy in Scotland – which has a direct or impact on the pay of NHS workers, council workers, teachers, firefighters and civil servants – all workers who in one way or another have been on the frontline.”

Ms Foyer claimed the money made by billionaires during the pandemic, which she said is as high as £25bn, could fund the pay increase.

Along with the key worker funding, the group will also call on an immediate uplift of the minimum wage to at least £10 per hour for workers of all ages.

She said: “While billionaires have increased their wealth by enough to fund an annual extra £2 an hour for every key worker, there is almost universal consensus that pay in social care and retail is a disgrace yet nothing has been done.

“In different ways these workers have kept our country together, just as they were doing before the start of the pandemic.

“It is no coincidence whatsoever that the majority of these workers are women whose work has been undervalued forever. That has to change.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government is committed to the principles of Fair Work, including payment of at least the real living wage to all workers.

“Our flagship Fair Work First policy asks employers to commit to adopting fair working practices helping to create workplaces where workers have greater security of pay and contract, can develop their skills and have an effective voice.

“There are currently just over 1890 Living Wage Accredited Employers in Scotland which is proportionately more than five times as many as in the rest of the UK.

“This summer we announced a £100m package to support people looking for work or those at risk of redundancy.

“This includes a young person’s guarantee for employment, education or training, a new national retraining scheme and more funding for immediate assistance and advice if people are made redundant.

“In addition, the Fair Start Scotland employment support service has been extended by a further two years to March 2023, aiming to support a minimum of 38,000 people who want help to find and stay in work.”

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