By Elliot Keck, investigations campaign manager
Life is tough right now. A 70-year high tax burden and soaring inflation has produced the perfect storm. Taxpayers are feeling the pressure and most people are being forced to make changes to their lifestyles.
But while no one is immune, some are more protected than others. Brits are staring down the barrel of a summer of strikes in the public sector, threatening enormous disruption. Yet it is those public sector workers who are the most shielded from economic pain.
Let’s start with the obvious factor. The £31,000 median salary of the railway workers involved in recent strikes would be a dream pay rise for the average private sector worker on £25,085, and that’s assuming the figure is not an understatement. And that doesn’t even begin to describe the situation for tube and train drivers, who receive a whopping £59,000 in basic rate of pay, confirmed by a recent written question in Parliament.
So when tube drivers and train workers go on strike over demands for a 7 per cent pay rise, remember who is worst affected. It won’t be the bankers and hedge fund managers, or indeed the civil servants - they can all work from home. It’s the tradesmen, hospitality workers and cleaners, many on salaries well below those of RMT members, who suffer.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What about doctors, the very people who got us through the pandemic? Many argue that £29,000, the starting salary for junior doctors, is too low. But £29,000 is a starting salary. For most graduates (let alone those without degrees), a £29,000 starting salary would be a generous pay rise. The majority of Brits could never dream of the £100,000 that the average GP takes home. If they strike over their demand for a whopping 30 per cent pay rise, once again it’s those below them in the pay scales who will suffer.
Perhaps the most shocking is barristers, who are receiving an inflation-busting 15 per cent pay rise. That amounts to an extra £7,000 for a typical criminal barrister according to the Ministry of Justice. They’re striking anyway.
Across the public sector we’re seeing unrealistic demands spurred on by militant unions. These demands can only be met with yet further tax hikes, when taxpayers are already suffering under crippling rate rises. These are demands from often well-paid workers who already receive significant pay premiums compared to the rest of us in the private sector. That’s before even mentioning their other perks - from greater job security to better pensions. And these are very same unions that receive at least £100 million in taxpayers’ cash through trade union facility time, a figure that is almost certainly an underestimate. Our recent petition, backed by over 60 MPs, calls for a cap on this. Sign it here.
For their part, the government is by no means blameless. By spending money as if inflation doesn’t exist, and hiking taxes as if taxpayers’ pockets are bottomless, they have contributed to this cost of living crisis. The way to solve it? Implementing tax cuts and letting Brits keep more of their hard earned cash. By bringing forward the income tax cut and doubling it to 2p, workers across both the public and private sectors will benefit. Far better to do that, than to give in to the demands of selfish unions and see taxpayers lumbered with the bill.